Group Social Skills with Kelly Bermingham

The episode features Kelly McKinnon-Birmingham, a seasoned BCBA, discussing the pivotal role of social skills in child development. The conversation delves into how early volunteerism shaped Kelly’s career, emphasizing joint attention’s significance over mere eye contact. It covers the transition from one-on-one to group learning, stressing that children must first master certain social skills. The discussion also touches on classroom management, advocating for a positive reinforcement strategy and organized environments to foster better learning. Finally, Kelly shares a personal family practice aimed at reducing stress and improving overall well-being.


  • Kelly Berminghams’ autism journey
  • The importance of joint attention and how to teach it
  • Going from one to one instruction to group instruction
  • Challenges of classroom management
  • Effective strategies for promoting classroom organization and social skills

Introduction of Kelly McKinnon-Birmingham

Kelly McKinnon-Birmingham, a seasoned Board Certified Behavior Analyst, joins the episode to share her vast experience in the field of social skills development. With decades of work dedicated to helping children master crucial social skills, Kelly’s introduction sets the stage for an insightful discussion on the importance of these competencies in child development. Kelly attributes her fall into the world of social skills development to her early experiences with volunteering, influenced by her mother’s dedication to inclusive preschool education. Her journey from pursuing pre-med to switching to psychology underscores the pivotal moment when she realized her passion for behavioral counseling, leading her to a career focused on aiding those in need of additional support.

The Importance of Joint Attention in Social Skills

The conversation highlights joint attention as a cornerstone of social skills, emphasizing its significance beyond mere eye contact. Kelly elaborates on how joint attention facilitates meaningful social interactions and learning, serving as a foundational element that children must master before successfully transitioning to group learning environments.

Transition from One-on-One to Group Learning

Kelly discusses the critical transition from individualized attention to group experiences in a child’s learning journey. She points out that children need to possess certain social skills, such as joint attention, before they can benefit from and contribute to group settings effectively. This segment sheds light on the importance of preparing children for the complexities of group dynamics.

Challenges in Classroom Management and Child Behavior

This key point addresses the common challenges faced by educators in managing classroom behavior and fostering a positive learning environment. Kelly shares insights into how classroom organization and a strategy focused on positive reinforcement can mitigate behavioral issues and enhance the overall educational experience for children.

Effective Classroom Organization and Positive Reinforcement

Kelly stresses the importance of an organized classroom environment and the use of positive reinforcement to promote desirable behaviors among students. She shares examples of how acknowledging and reinforcing positive behavior, rather than focusing solely on correcting negative actions, can lead to a more engaged and cooperative classroom atmosphere.

Stress Reduction and Self-Care Practices

The discussion shifts to personal well-being, with Kelly sharing her approach to reducing family stress through the practice of non-contingent Sundays. By dedicating one day a week to unconditional family fun, regardless of the week’s challenges, Kelly highlights the positive impact such practices can have on family dynamics and individual stress levels.

This is a great episode with Kelly Bermingham all about how you can support group social skills! 


Kelly Bermingham on Turn Autism Around Podcast

 Kelly has been working in the field of Autism & Developmental Disabilities for 28 years, and has been a BCBA since 2003. Kelly is a published author, having written a book, “Social Skills Solutions: A Hands-on Manual” in 2003 and has a new book published, called “The Group Experience.” She has a podcast, A 25-Year Look Across the Spectrum, where she tackles topics related to autism and ABA, sharing insights with her friend, and caregiver, Jen Lucero.