The Social Skills Agency

The Social Skills Agency Story

Hi! My name is Adri Bof, and I am the founder of the Social Skills Agency.

The Social Skills Agency was born because it is a service I wished had been available for my son when I was looking for social skills groups and clubs for him to participate in. Let me share this journey with you.

Since my son’s diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, I have searched, read, and listened to numerous recommendations, but nowhere could I find any groups that fully met his needs and his profile. His intelligence, exceptional focus, and extraordinary talents in different areas were neither being nurtured nor fully understood. Despite well-meaning intent, no expert intervention was providing what he needed in terms of social skills. Regrettably, I have a feeling that my son’s journey is not unique.

Often social skills interventions, available for autistic children, seem to be:

  • Not specific enough – services would deliver the same intervention for all, regardless of where the children are on the spectrum. As if one model fitted all.
  • Planned with unclear learning aims – I believe that children and teenagers who face social cognitive difficulties need more than get-togethers to develop their social communication and to experience positive social situations.

Many social skills groups in the community attempt to help kids with social challenges by bringing these kids together in the hope that friendships will develop in the group. (…) The problem with these types of programmes is that they’re (…) failing to teach the critical skills needed for making and keeping friends. Elizabeth A. Laugeson, The Science of Making Friends

  • Restrictive in terms of real social practice – The knowledge acquired in one-to-one social skills sessions, where there are no opportunities for practice and transfer learning to real-life situations is only theoretical. When individuals have the opportunity to try to implement what they have learned, anxiety and social unpredictability get the best of them, as appropriate and encouraging coaching is not available at hand.

The commitment and hard-work as well as the display of consideration and care in these interventions were always immeasurably valued but, ultimately, these services never quite met all of their participants’ social skills needs.

It was at this moment in time that my background in teaching and my motherly survival instincts kicked in.

These experiences prompted a personal desire to change this landscape. The aim is not only for other parents in similar situations to have access to a service that helps children and young people clearly work on their specific social communication skills, but also to provide a creative platform for these young people to experience real learning, structure, and connections. This was when the Social Skills Agency – Department of Special Interests & Social Affairs – was born!