1. First break down the steps of the use of the phone to smaller steps. For example, picking up the phone, dialing the phone number, saying hello.
2. Develop a list of people to call and let them know that your child may be calling to say "hi" sometimes and in in some cases you can let them know you are practicing the use of the phone.
3. You can also use a phone in the home to practice phone calls .
4. Review a list of topics your child can talk about with the person. For example "how are you feeling today?" or "what did you do yesterday?"
5. After learning to make small talk on the phone practice how to say goodbye. For example, " I had fun talking with you I will call you next week... good-bye!"
6. Also, one of the steps in teaching your child can be to answer the phone. For example, "Hello, this is __ can I help you?"
7. A great functional skill to teach your child is to take a message. You can set-up a book with message format blanks. There are message books with blanks for who called and their telephone number. This can be helpful to the whole family! Family members should encourage this with specific and immediate social praise for messages.
8. Practicing the above skills will assure that the skills are performed correctly. Try to practice at least once a week or daily if possible.
9. Finally, the most crucial step is to identify the reinforcers for your child that will result in learning this skill.
For example some children might like the following items, a special treat, social praise, watching television, going for ice-cream, cellphone service for one month, time on the computer, hugs and any other item that will result in the performance of appropriate phone calls. The reinforcer can be delivered daily, after the phone training or weekly. The frequency should be determined based on your child and which schedule of delivery will result in the performance of the social skill.
In general, phone usage is a key skill in todays' society. The social skills used on the phone can also be used when interacting and making small talk with others in meetings, social events and almost any activity during the day!:)