As I was thinking about what I should post next, I thought of various resources I could provide for math, reading, writing, etc.  I will address those subjects because they are important.   However, academics won’t be as useful for a person who lacks empathy, social skills, and self control.  For example, a person can have a very high IQ and acquire a vast amount of academic knowledge but lack the social skills needed to keep a job and/or make and keep friends.  This is especially true for many students with disabilities.  What most students can learn by experience, many students with disabilities need direct instruction on how to manage their emotions and to have the proper skills for interacting with people.

We provide social skills instruction to students who needs these skills at school.   It helps to reinforce these skills at home too.  Here are some skills and resources that can be used at home:

Skills/Methods of teaching social skills:

  • Empathy/Perspective taking:  Give your child different scenarios (can use pictures) and have them talk about what each person is feeling in these scenarios.  Then start applying this to your child’s life and ask them what people in their life are thinking/feeling in situations that occur in daily life.
  • Self- control:  The ability to know what emotions they are feeling and know what strategies to use to get themselves calm again.  Strategies can include deep breathing, getting a drink, taking  a short walk, sitting in a quiet area, reading a book, drawing, building something, etc.   Then when calm, communicating with trusted adults what is bothering them and what they need help with.
  • Delayed gratification:  Have your child earn toys and activities by contributing around the house by doing the dishes, their own laundry, etc.    Also have them wait just a little bit longer than what they are used to when getting something.  They need to learn how to wait and be patient.
  • Manners:  Teach your children to say please, thank you, excuse me, sorry, and how to talk in a respectful tone of voice to adults and peers.
  • Growth Mindset:   Growth mind set is knowing that your skills in any subject can grow with correct practice and effort.  The opposite of this is a fixed mindset.  Having a fixed mindset is when you think you can only do something if you were born with that talent and you can not change.  People fall on a continuum of what the have a growth and fixed mindset with.   If you see a child saying, “I can’t do math.”  Have them add the word YET.  “I can’t do math, YET.”  Sesame street has a music video called “The Power of Yet” that you can find on youtube.  Adding yet to an “I can’t” statement helps promote a growth mind set.   Having a growth mindset helps a child develop perseverance and grit.  Both of which are important for learning and growth.
  • Other Skills:  There are many other skills that can be worked on that have steps to go with them and can be role – played.   Here are a few examples: Following directions, Asking for help, Accepting No For an Answer, Staying on Task, and much more.  The steps for each skill need to be taught and modeled and then role plays can be done for specific situations that children are dealing with.  For example, the child may struggle to follow directions with a certain teacher/situation.  That would need to be what the role-play focuses on.
  • Social thinking approach:  This helps children to understand the skills conceptually.  I will list the resources for this below.
  • Video Modeling:  You can record your child (with an I-pad, video camera, phone, etc,)  performing different social skills/routines correctly (you can edit it so that it’s only the correct actions the child sees.)  Then they can watch themselves doing it several times.  The repetition of watching themselves can help them with acquiring and using the skill.

Resources for teaching the above skills:

  • Skill Streaming for The Elementary School Child  This book lists the steps for each skill.
  • Social Thinking by Michelle Garcia Winner:  There are many other products that she has such as Super Flex curriculum which is excellent for teaching brain flexibility in a fun way.  Resources for this can be found at https://www.socialthinking.com/
  • Literature resources:
    • Books by Julia Cook:
      • Soda Pop Head
      • Making Friends is an Art
      • Personal Space Camp
      • I Just Don’t Like The Sound of No
      • And many, many more
      • There are also lesson plans to go with these books
        • You can buy these books on amazon or can see many of them read aloud on youtube

This is not an exhaustive list of skills and resources and you can find other resources in online searches and on youtube.  If you have questions about this blog or about anything you might come across in your own research, please contact me at asanchez@ogdenprep.org.

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