Teach Social Skills in School Using Lunch Bunch


by Julie Stewart, M.Ed.

Individuals with autism spectrum disorders are impacted by a qualitative impairment in social interaction.  Although this area of challenge will impact individuals across the lifespan, it is an area that does not receive as much intervention attention as other areas.  To embed intervention across the day teachers must be creative and systematically plan for teaching social skills.  Finding times during the day to work on social skills is difficult with all of the demands for academic production and using times of the day that are naturally social, such as lunch, help teachers to begin to target social goals/objectives.  One particular way for teachers to facilitate social skills training is to create opportunities through a structured “Lunch Bunch”.

When setting up a Lunch Bunch program at your school, make sure to recognize the importance of the following steps and components:

  1. Select target peers to participate
  2. Select skills to target for the student with ASD participating
  3. Select location (separate table in the lunchroom, classroom, library, etc.)
  4. Facilitate instruction on the targeted goals through purposeful inclusion of student(s) with ASD in conversation during lunchtime
  5. Make sure to take data and provide reinforcement for target behaviors
  6. If time permits include facilitation of a game with students
  7. Students return to their respective classes at the conclusion of lunch

Systematically targeting social skills across the day is essential, however social groupings such as Lunch Bunch help students with ASD and their typically developing peers to get to know one another better, both positively impacted.  Lunch Bunch should be offered at least a few times a week and should continue across the school year with a variety of peer partners. Good luck teaching essential social skills that will impact the lives of your students now and in their futures!

You can learn more about how to set up a Lunch Bunch program at your school by watching the the webinar "Targeting Social Skills Across the School Day:  Lunch Bunch and Beyond".

Julie Stewart is a Field Training Coordinator for the KY Autism Training Center. She provides direct training and technical assistance to education staff, social and community personnel, counselors, job coaches and families.

KY Autism Training Center Summer 2012 Newsletter August 2012