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Learning and Sharing

Conversation Mapping

 

 

 

I love combining resources to make an outstanding lesson/session for a client.  A few of my teen clients are working on conversation building.  Here are some of the resources that we use:

 

First, I like to start with this Conversation Mapping activity   https://jillkuzma.wordpress.com/conversation-skills/teaching-ideas/

 

 

After practicing several conversation scripts, we move on to video modeling

 

 

The social skills videos on the Model Me Kids app are excellent for teaching perspective taking.  The narration, graphics, and visuals, all done by teens, help explain the hidden social rules of conversation.

http://www.modelmekids.com/

 

 

Most of my teen clients find it difficult to start conversations based on other people’s interests.  With the photos provided and the visual prompts of connecting comments, wondering questions, and compliments in this free download the groups have what they need for more guided practice.

http://autismteachingstrategies.com/autism-strategies/100-cool-people-photos-for-conversation-practice-a-complete-conversation-starter-kit-for-children-on-the-autism-spectrum/

 

Finally, we use what we have learned by building conversations using the Conversation Builder Teen app.

 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/conversationbuilderteen/id551522479?mt=8

After lots of practice, it is time to venture out into the real world to try all that we have learned.  A great place for real world practice is the Friday night Teen Social Skills Group at Peak Experiences climbing wall!  For more information on this group contact me at autasticavenues@gmail.com

Best,

Robin

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Cause and Effect in Reading Comprehension

The world is full of causes and effects, so it is no surprise that literature and non-fiction writings contain cause and effect references.  Cause and effect is a literacy tool used to help students comprehend when actions and reactions occur. Identifying cause and effect relationships within a story helps students focus on two important elements of comprehension: what happens in the story and why it happened.

  • The cause is why or the reason something happened. It answers the question Why or How. Authors often identify the cause using signal words: Because… Since… Cause… Reason… So that… Unless… The main reason… Due to… For the simple reason that…
  • The effect is the result of what happened. It answers the questions: What happened? What was the result? Authors typically indicate the effect using these signal words: As a result of… If… Consequently… Effect… Therefore… Thus… So… Because of this… So that… For this reason…

Sometimes, before we can understand cause and effect in the stories we read, we must first understand cause and effect in our daily lives.

 

 

 

I find that I weave the Social Thinking® vocabulary throughout therapy and reading tutoring sessions. The concepts are applicable no matter what we are doing. “Think with your eyes and find the clues”.   http://socialthinking.com

 

https://www.superduperinc.com/products/view.aspx?pid=fd11#.Wa0-V62ZNsM

 

 

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Cause-and-Effect-Differentiated-Activity-Bundle-Common-Core-Aligned-321042

 

Best,

Robin

 

 

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The People Skills that Teens and Young Adults Need to Succeed in School, Work, and Life

 

There is a reason that I keep going back to Chick-fil-A and it is not because I particularly love their chicken.  I did love the Asian Chicken Salad but it was discontinued. That salad is no longer on the menu, but I keep going back when I want fast food.  The reason I keep going back is because of their customer service.  Chick-fil-A trains their employees well.  The smiling face at the window who greets me as if my order really matters to him/her and responds to my “thank you” with “my pleasure” keeps me going back.

I pay attention to customer service because I own a business.  I employ young adults and I coach teens and young adults in developing  effective, accurate, and persuasive communication skills.

Many of my teen and young adult clients are preparing for their first job interview, the high school/college application and interview process, or the volunteering/community service experience. Smile & Succeed for Teens by Kirt Mancke is a valuable resource for me as a coach.

 

http://www.smilethebook.com

http://the-art-of-autism.com/book-review-smile-succeed-for-teens/

 

The young employees at Chick-fil-A never respond to my “thank you” with “no problem”.  The Smile & Succeed for Teens handbook supports my feelings regarding that cringeworthy phrase.  It is a hard habit to break but so worth the effort to replace a negative response with a positive response. Phrases such as, “You’re welcome” or as they say at Chick-Fil-A, “It’s my pleasure”, end the exchange on a very positive, respectful note.

 

The same goes when responding to a request.  “I’m happy to…” or ” Of course, I’ll do that right away”. Small stuff matters! The last thing that an employer wants to hear is an excuse or an argument.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/micahsolomon/2015/11/01/watch-customer-service-experts-heads-explode-when-you-say-no-problem/

In addition to the Top 10 People Skills discussed in Smile & Succeed for Teens, I also focus on the following:

  • Flexibility and adaptability
  • Accepting and learning from feedback and criticism
  • Problem solving skills

It is my pleasure to coach young people and assist them in obtaining success in school, a first job, or in their community.

Best,

Robin

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Note to Self

Sarah Ward, at Cognitive Connections, gives us a working definition of Executive Function Skills:

            “Executive Function is the ability to integrate a present awareness with future anticipation and past experiences to develop a reasonable goal and plan for the present action (while still accounting for and flexibly managing the space, time and people around you).”

http://efpractice.com

When I am working with clients as a social executive function coach, I often use Ms. Ward’s Note to Self strategy.

Some ways that we can use the Note to Self strategy:

  • Recall the benefits of hard work
  • Review past decisions and the impact
  • Review situation to avoid making future mistakes

 

When we play a game of Trouble our goal is to have fun.  To achieve a good outcome, we have to reflect on the last few times that we played the game together.  If someone moved minions that belonged to another player, what was the impact of that behavior?  Did it stop the fun?  Did a player take someone else’s turn over and over?  Bringing up those memories helps us create our Notes to Self.

The ultimate goal is to store the notes to self like sticky notes on our brain. Until we can do that we will use a sticky note at our place at the table.  If a problem pops up, I will state the problem and point to the sticky note.  In a future game, I may just have to ask them to call up their Notes to Self.

 

Using the Note to Self strategy is a great way to stay calm and help young clients learn self-control. Children learn to reflect on their behavior and how it affected the thoughts and feelings of others.  It relieves the facilitator of always telling the child what to do and what not to do.

Best,

Robin

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Reading Strategies

 

The goal of all reading instruction is to help students become expert readers so that they can achieve independence and can use literacy for lifelong learning and enjoyment.  Learning to use strategies effectively is essential to constructing meaning.  Readers who are not strategic often encounter difficulties in their reading (Paris, Wasik, & Turner, 1991).  These early difficulties in reading may influence the way readers learn throughout the rest of their lives (Anderson, Hiebert, Scott, & Wildinson, 1985).

 

Comprehension is the reason for reading.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Text-Detectives-Find-the-Text-Evidence-Through-the-Year-BUNDLE-August-May-1375288

http://ripperresources.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-4h-reading-strategy-innovation-on.html

One of my clients loves color and coloring.  She wants to decorate every paper she encounters with color in a variety of forms.  I have discovered that this Find the Evidence strategy keeps her focused as well as teaching her how to go back to the text to find the answer to comprehension questions. For all of my clients, visual supports help to make the invisible visible.

 

 

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Perspective-Taking-Activities-Trading-Places-1605766

Social knowledge is vital to reading comprehension.  Perspective taking activities help my clients make connections to their own experiences, read between the lines, and make inferences.

Best,

Robin

 

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Reading Comprehension and Social Thinking

There is a connection between reading comprehension and social thinking.  Children who struggle with reading comprehension usually have difficulty using social judgment on the playground and when working in cooperative groups.  Children who have social learning challenges usually struggle to make inferences and draw conclusions as they read.  Both social thinking and reading comprehension require a high level of perspective taking.  When we are around other people, we need to think about their thoughts, motives, and intentions.  When we read, we have to get into the characters heads and imagine what they are thinking and what they might do next.

In social settings, children must read the facial expressions and body language of others in order to make a smart guess about which groups to attempt to enter and which ones to avoid.  They need to be able to anticipate how problems can occur in order to take steps to solve them.  They must be able to compromise, negotiate, and be flexible thinkers in order to make and keep friends.  To comprehend what they read, children must imagine what their characters are thinking.  They must use the words to create a picture or use the picture provided to imagine what the characters are thinking.

I use a variety of strategies with my clients who struggle with reading.  I have found great success when I help them make the invisible visible.  I Get It! by Audra Jensen gave me a kick-start on how to apply the Social Thinking® vocabulary and concepts to reading comprehension.

 

http://www.socialthinking.com

 

I’m a Frog! by Mo Willems is an example of a book that I would use when working on the concept of a shared imagination.

 

                                                         

In this book, Piggie understands what it means to pretend and wants to help Gerald share in his pretending.  Gerald just doesn’t get it!

I hide the text and ask my clients to make smart guesses about what the characters are thinking.  I ask them to think with their eyes by pointing out facial expressions and body language.

 

 

 

 

Then we look at the text to see if our guesses were correct or close.

 

Wambat Walkabout by Carol Diggory Shields and illustrated by Sophie Blackall is the perfect text when working on the concept of keeping your body in the group.

 

 

For an extensive list of books to support reading comprehension and Social Thinking® concepts, visit http://www.ausomelysocial.wordpress.com

 

We, educators and therapists, must be careful that we do not assume that reading comprehension is not a concern if students have high cognitive skills, a robust vocabulary, can decode, and are able to answer general WH questions about what they read.  We need to help them dig deeper and help them to put themselves into a story and understand perspectives and how different people and situations affect each other and their environment.

My Best,

Robin

 

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Perspective Taking and Making the Invisible Visible

 

 

MOTIVE and INTENT are important concepts for tweens and teens to understand in order to navigate their social world. Young people with social challenges often need explicit teaching to better understand this concept.  We think with our eyes to figure out others thoughts, intentions, emotions, plans, and motives.

I love these perspective taking activities from www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Socially-Skilled-Kids

The name of the activity is Perspective Taking Photo Activity Cards  What Are They Thinking?

We can write on the picture scenarios and draw whatever we need to to make the invisible visible.

 

“In working with our clients, we use the thought bubbles to help individuals learn about thoughts; the thoughts we have about ourselves and the thoughts we may have based on what we think about others. This tool can build more self-awareness into the cognitive process. It can then support carrying the lesson one step further: how we adapt our social skills based on our thoughts as well as the thoughts others have about us or the situation.”   Michelle Garcia Winner  

Read the complete article at http://www.socialthinking.com

 

 

More perspective taking activities that we like to make interactive with sticky thought and speech bubbles.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Speech-Paths

Thoughts can change.  Different people have different thoughts and feelings about the same thing.  The sticky bubbles work well for making the invisible visible.

When watching delightful, wordless animated short films like Pixar’s Piper, thought bubbles give us a way of expressing our thoughts about the thoughts, intentions, and motives of others.

 

Happy Summer!

Robin

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Tone of Voice

 

 

 

 

 

 

93% of communication is nonverbal and 38% is based on tone of voice.  Addressing these elements of communication are targets for my clients in middle and high school who experience ASD and social learning challenges.  It is important for young people to learn to “think with their eyes” in order to read the non verbal cues of others and just as importantly, to monitor their own nonverbal communication.

The evidence based technique of video modeling to target social skills for tweens and teens is highly effective.  I have been using  Everyday Speech Social Skills Videos during coaching sessions. http://www.everydayspeech.com

The videos contrast behaviors and show clients what everyone is thinking.  The Tone of Voice videos present teens using a harsh tone as well as an indifferent tone.

 

 

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Lets-Talk-About-Tone-of-Voice-A-Social-Skills-Discussion-and-Game-Activity-1984258

I use this discussion guide and game, a product by http://thecreativeslpblog.wordpress.com, as a framework for working on tone of voice.  Questions are provided to help you get the discussion going about tone of voice and the important role it plays in communication. After my clients discuss and define tone of voice, they get to practice altering their own voices to change meaning. Sentences are included as well as additional blank cards for them to add their own sentences to the game.

 

“Tone can be a deal breaker in the business world, in relationships, interviews, and social standing.”

 

Remember – tone of voice matters

Best,

Robin

 

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Our “Inner Jerks”

 

 

Recently, I have had a few middle school age clients who needed some coaching in how to deal with their “inner jerk” and the “inner jerk” in others.  These young people are discovering that acting like a jerk is one thing, being mean and cruel is another.  Knowing the difference and knowing how to solve problems proactively matters.

We all have to share space.  Sometimes we have to share space with people who just rub us the wrong way and bring out the worst in us.  These people can, and often do, wake up our “inner jerk”.  It is our job to try and control our “inner jerk” so that we don’t wake up the jerk in others.

Identifying what it means to be difficult is a good first step.  All of us, at one time or another, have been a difficult person to someone else.  The next step is to make a plan of action on how to deal or handle the “jerks” that we encounter in our everyday life.  Using positive self-talk or your inner coach is a great strategy for reminding ourselves that we can walk away before our emotions take over and we “flip our lids”.

There will always be jerks in our life.  You can’t control anyone else’s behavior but you can work hard to try and control your own “inner jerk” and put a stop to that behavior. Learning about how the brain works helps us self-regulate.

 

 

This is a very informative video showing a hand model of the brain.  It is long, but 12 minutes in, he demonstrates to a 13 year old how the brain works and what happens when we “flip our lids”.

Middle school is a tough place.  It is full of jerks, drama, and strong feelings.  Conflicts happen.  Being prepared with a knowledge of how the brain works and a plan of action for dealing with conflict can help keep us flexible and out of trouble.

For more information on the inner jerk, go to http://socialthinking.com

Find more great ideas in Thinksheets for Tweens and Teens and Socially Curious and Curiously Social.  Both are Social Thinking® publications by Michele Garcia Winner and Pamela Crooke.

Best,

Robin

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This Is How We Do It!

 

Saturday is my busiest day now and I change my hat every hour, from 9:30am to 4:00. Kids are available on Saturday and I see 6 clients who present with very different needs.

 

 

Listening to an attention and regulation program while climbing and walking prepares this client to engage with his social group.    http://integratedlistening.com

 

My client loves the concept of Digging Deeper.  He is not a “Big Picture” thinker, so the close reading process helps him to think beyond a list of details.

Read more about close reading at The Literacy Nest blog.

http://www.theliteracynest.com/2013/11/digging-deeper-into-reading-helpful.html

  •       Carefully look at the meaning of the text in a series of rereads.
  •       Give attention to ideas, supporting details, and central themes.
  •       Reflect on meanings of sentences and words. (the language of text)
  •       Not only reflect on their own thinking (metacognition), but reflect on other’s thinking. (the author!)

More on close reading:

  • Close reading isn’t about any one technique, but rather arriving at a goal as the reader.(Shanahan, 2013)
  • Close reading can be flexible. Three or four reads of the text every time may not be necessary, and not every text is meant to be closely read. One recommendation is for teachers to choose one challenging text to close read for every teaching unit.
  • Questioning is key. Teachers need to be VERY familiar with the text and take time to develop questions for each repeated read that will get students traveling to a new place with their thinking. These questions should also help the reader arrive at a deeper comprehension of the text.

https://classroomcaboodle.com/product/digging-meaning-close-reading-wall-chart/

 

 

My young clients who struggle with self-regulation get a kick out of Hunter and they recognize themselves in him as he works hard to stop before responding or reacting impulsively.  The remote serves as a concrete and familiar cue for organizing and integrating the concepts and skills for self-regulation.  http://www.youthlight.com

 

 

 

Characters, Matt, Molly and their friends, show us the expected and unexpected behaviors for a variety of social settings.  Their exaggerated facial expressions and body language help my clients to better understand what they might be thinking and feeling in those social scenarios.  Processing verbal information through reading and matching sentences and pictures provides reading practice, too.    http://linguisystems.com

 

Dr. Erica Warren at Good Sensory Learning, has created workbooks for helping to strengthen visual discrimination,  reverse image reversals, and improve pattern recognition and tracking.  The exercises and strategies included in these products are a welcome addition to my multi-sensory reading sessions.

http://GoodSensoryLearning.com

Have a great week!

My Best,

Robin

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