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School-Based Interventions : Autism Spectrum Disorders
 
Interventions for Difficulties with Social Interaction

Accommodations
  1. Use visual "emotional gauge/thermometer" to help the student to process emotions

    Example:
    Draw a gauge or barometer that measures the degree of a specific emotion. Points on the gauge can be given numerical values and/or appropriate words and actions. For each point, appropriate words, tone of voice and body language can be explained with illustrations from stories, television and role play.
  2. Identify opportunities for the student to work with other students

    Example:
    Look for situations that encourage peer communication (playing ball, sharing food at lunchtime).
  3. Assign a "typical peer" to participate in a weekly social skills group with the student

    Example:
    Have "typical" peers engage the student in social encounters similar to regular, real-life conversations.
  4. Use peer modeling for community and classroom skills

    Example:
    Have peers model walking in the halls, getting materials together to change classes.
  5. Pair the student with a "typical" peer/buddy to help carry out social interactions in structured settings

    Example:
    Team the student with a "typical" peer during a structured recess kickball game to show the student how to kick, run, and catch.
  6. Provide structure for the student's talking and interaction

    Example:
    Give the student five minutes at the beginning and end of each day to talk about his/her area of interest. If the student has questions in the interim, he/she can be instructed to write down questions for review at end of the day. ("We can talk about the weather for five minutes. Then I get to choose the topic". Or " we can talk about the weather for four minutes, but tell me one new thing about the weather. Then it is my turn". Or "what do you want to talk about first: the garden, the weather or the ball game?") End promptly at the appointed time and use a timer if necessary.
  7. Clarify expectations for eye contact in different situations and contexts

    Example:
    Specify “socially appropriate” eye contact for greetings and asking questions. Do not insist that the student look at teacher/staff/others. Instead, to monitor the student's comprehension, ask the student what he/she is going to do next (after he/she receives instructions).
  8. Role model effective communication by accompanying words with facial expressions, gestures and body language

    Example:
    Model the expression of feelings as emotional situations are explained. Use natural facial expressions to avoid distracting attention from the words. Frown, look sad and concerned while explaining, "oh, you feel sad and you hurt your knee."
  9. Encourage the student to modulate voice volume and intonation. Encourage "think it, don't say it" when talking is not appropriate

    Example:
    Develop written rules for volume and intonation ("whispering is a 1; inside voice is a 4, outside voice playing is a 7; yelling is a 9"). Devise a hand signal to signal use of a "confidential voice". Role play and practice reading aloud at different voice levels. top

Specialized Instruction

  • Divide social skills into successive steps and teach the steps incrementally

    Example:
    Break down social encounters and teach multiple ways to accomplish each part (you can introduce yourself by saying your name, by asking what the other person is doing, by showing the other person an interesting object, by just saying "hi," or by having a friend who already knows someone introduce that person).
  • Identify more appropriate "one step up" routines when the student is "stuck"

    Example:
    If the student is fixated on certain items, look for alternatives that are more acceptable (pilot video game to replace violent combat video game).
  • Facilitate generalization of social skills via role-playing, games and puppets

    Example:
    Have the student practice social encounters by role-playing, acting in "plays," or, for younger students, using puppets.
  • Illustrate in writing and/or pictures the steps of social skills

    Example:
    Show pictures of two people greeting each other, and have the student explain how it's going in the picture by examining eye contact, distance between the characters, and their facial expressions.
  • Have an adult prompt the student to initiate or engage in specified interactive behavior with peers

    Example:
    Identify prompts to signal the student for social encounters ("time for introductions").
  • Provide a cue card to clarify conversation rules

    Example:
    Have the student use a "cue card" with steps to conduct conversations.
  • Use visual systems of social scripts, cartooning, "social autopsies" and visual cards

    Example:
    Use "social stories" to provide the student with direct access to social information such as understanding other people's perspectives and the reason for certain rules. Click here for sample social stories: www.thegraycenter.org
  • Provide social skills instruction within natural environments

    Example:
    Work on social skill component skills (introductions, sustaining conversations) in natural environments such as the lunchroom or gym.
  • Build social/emotional awareness by explaining extra meanings of statements

    Example:
    Cultivate social and emotional understanding by examining classroom situations (point out thoughts or feelings of others, clarify literal interpretations, explain humor and jokes).
  • Provide explicit teaching about how to start conversations, respond to comments, and end conversations

    Example:
    Describe specific phrases and behaviors to create conversations ("stand this far from a person, look at their eyes, say 'hi', ask if they want to play four square with you," "say 'maybe another time' if they say 'no.').
  • Teach the student to identify correctable causes of social failures

    Example:
    Role-play with the student various social situations and teach situation-evaluating statements such as "I have a harder time talking with others when______, but it is easier when _____."
  • Schedule regular time to process peer and social interactions and concerns

    Example:
    At the end of each day the student and teacher or other adult talk for 10 minutes about what they did at recess, lunch, or on the way to school.
  • Identify a specific place and time to talk about worries or preoccupations

    Example:
    Do not schedule worry time at the lunch table or at times inappropriate to think about or possibly trigger worry. "We can talk about worries when we sit in these chairs."
  • Establish structured social activities with pre-assigned roles that can be practiced

    Example:
    Facilitate activity, asking "who wants to build a fort?" Invite children by name and assign them jobs like holding up a wall piece or putting the pieces together. Also assign a job to the student.
  • Target social skills development on conversational skills, perspective taking, and making appropriate complaints

    Example:
    Help the student understand when to speak using "comic strip conversations". Words are shown in bubbles, interruptions occur when bubbles collide. Click here for sample social stories: www.thegraycenter.org
  • Identify and teach appropriate peer(s) to provide "social translations" for the student

    Example:
    Assign a peer buddy who enjoys helping the student and who is attentive to his/her needs. Train the peer buddy to help his/her classmate converse on the bus, during recess, at lunchtime,and during passing periods.
  • Develop scripts for commonly occurring problem situations

    Example:
    If the student frequently interrupts other students, develop a social story about appropriate conversation turn-taking and allow the student to identify cues for speaking/listening, such as "wait until the other student stops talking and looks at me or asks me a question."
  • Use scenes from TV or movies to identify and illustrate social reasoning skills

    Example:
    Allow or encourage the student to watch scenes from his/her favorite videos. Pause and replay scenes to help the student understand more subtle aspects of what was going on. For example, to teach social reasoning skills use scenes from the TV series Third Rock from the Sun in which aliens attempt to socialize like humans.
  • Divide free play so the student interacts with peers first, and then is allowed to engage in solitary and constructive activities

    Example:
    If the student is unmotivated to play with other children, use a visual schedule/visual choice list to indicate cooperative activity first (game) and then solitary activity (computer) after the interactive game is played for 10 minutes.
  • Teach a process for negotiating conversation topics

    Example:
    Teach the student that when another person introduces a topic, it is a good idea to ask them two to three follow-up questions; it is not a good idea to change the topic immediately to your interest.
  • Teach rules, sentence frames, and coping/calming statements to manage repetitive talking

    Example:
    Develop and review a cue card to clarify conversation rules, topics, and questions.
  • Devise a subtle cueing system to help the student identify appropriate and inappropriate times for physical contact.

    Example:
    Accompany a color cue with a verbal statement of the rules for touching. "Red" means no physical contact; "yellow" means handshake but no hug or kiss, and "green" means a hug or kiss is okay. top
 
   
 
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