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Social Competence Strategies for Families 1

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Welcome to the webcast “Social Competence Strategies for Families”. My name is Julie Short. I am a regional Autism and Low Incidence coach for OCALI. This webcast touches me personally because I am a parent of a child with autism. Many of the strategies and practices I will share with you today have benefited me and my family. In each webcast we will discuss evidence- based strategies and/or promising practices that have been effective for use with individuals with autism spectrum disorder. The best measure of effectiveness of an intervention is whether it is effective for a particular individual. It is of utmost importance to collect and analyze data when using interventions with your family member with autism.

My son, Christopher, doesn’t seem to have many friends. The friends he does have get so frustrated with him. How can I help him make and keep friends?”

Let’s take a look at some strategies that might help your child and/or family member make and keep friends. We will talk about incorporating special interests, using social narratives, and how to apply role playing.

Many children on the spectrum have special interests, and by using these, we can actually help the individual connect with others with similar interests. Persons on the spectrum have said that when they are talking with others who share their special interest area, it helps to lessen their anxiety about social interactions and can be the basis for developing a friendship. Some family members have found groups that foster the interest of the individual, or have started groups on their own.

Here are a couple of examples of how to cultivate a friendship using a special interest area. If your family member on the spectrum is enthralled with hockey, then include peers who also love hockey to go to a local game or watch a video about it. Or if the civil war is the fascination, you could include a peer to play civil war computer games or go to a reenactment. Having the common interest can help make a connection between people.

I will be showing you many resources today. A list of all the resources in today’s webcast is available as a downloadable pdf at the OCALI website.
Here are a few resources about using special interests. AIM is a free resource at the OCALI website. There is a module that goes into detail about interests. If you live in Ohio, these books are available through the OCALI lending library at no cost. Click on the Lending Library button at www.ocali.org for more information.

Brenda Smith Myles wrote a book about the Hidden Curriculum. The Hidden Curriculum is the set of rules or guidelines that are often not directly taught but are assumed to be known. Some common phrases associated with the hidden curriculum include “I shouldn’t have to tell you but..” or “everyone knows that..” or “It’s obvious..” The hidden curriculum can cause confusion and misunderstandings for some individuals with ASD. Understanding the hidden curriculum is one important component for developing friendship skills. Therefore, these individuals may have to be directly taught the hidden curriculum.

These are some hidden curriculum examples that will help the individual with ASD in your life be able to make and keep friends. Knowing you need to be invited to play in someone’s yard, or when to clap, can help people get along with others.

Here is a list of Hidden Curriculum resources you may want to look into. The book, Hidden Curriculum:  Practical Solutions for Understanding Unstated Rules in Social Situations can be found in our lending library. The Hidden Curriculum calendars are also helpful because each new calendar states one hidden curriculum item a day. These calendars are available for purchase.

In addition to some books on Hidden Curriculum, there’s an app for that. The Hidden Curriculum for Kids app gives Real life excerpts about the “hidden curriculum”  to spur conversations about unwritten social rules. Reviews state that they are great conversation starters. There're compatible with iphone, ipod touch, and ipad.

There is also one for adolescents and adults. Judy Endow, an adult with autism, gives some suggestions and real life examples on social relationships, community, money matters, workplace and many others.

One tool that can help teach social behaviors is social narratives. These are stories that can be all words, or words and pictures, that are used to teach a new behavior. The stories are read with the individual before the new social situation happens. So, if you are working on how to play with other kids at the park, you would read the social narrative before you leave for the park and probably a couple of days before you are going if it doesn’t get the individual too excited.

This is an example of using words and pictures to teach about greeting others. You would need to consider the needs of the individual when developing the social narrative. For instance, this might work great for some persons, but might be too many images for someone else. Be ready to adapt social narratives you find online or you can develop your own.

This is a social narrative that is helping to teach what other kids might be thinking about the individual’s social actions. This example can help teach what to do when playing with other kids. It helps the individual with ASD know that when they are playing games with friends, they need to remember their friend’s feelings.

This example states the social rule and then gives explanations about why it is important not to turn away. These are things an individual on the spectrum may not “intuitively” know. For example, if you have a child/family member who consistently walks away from others when they are trying to talk to them, a social narrative may help with that. It’s a visual they need- to understand the social situation.

This app- Stories 2 Learn can be used to create social narratives. The user can create social stories that show social cues through photos, text, and audio messages. It provides easy access to the built-in camera and the display is very simple and easy to use. It’s Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.

Here are some social narrative resources you may want to explore, AIM and some books that are in our lending library

Another way to support an individual with ASD in developing friendships is to practice social situations using role play. Getting to experience what might happen at a birthday party or on a date can allow the person with ASD to think through the situation in a safe environment with familiar people. The slide has some guidelines for practicing role play.

Role play can be used to practice any social happening the individual with autism may encounter. Maybe you’ve observed him or her struggling with a social behavior or some event is coming up soon that he or she may need to understand before going, so you can role play to help teach the social rules of the situation.

This is a possible resource to help identify some social skills to practice. There is a book for younger children and one for high school and older persons.

These photos show a young man trying to have a conversation with a young woman at a cafeteria. After reading the captions and discussing the social happenings, you could role play this situation with the individual on the spectrum.

Quotes.....Hey you know what I did yesterday? I went to an amazing museum. They had these dinosaur bones...
Some dinosaurs were meat eaters, others herbivores. It was fascinating. They also had...

Here are several books available that describe using role play. Remember, you can download a list of all the resources mentioned in this webcast on the OCALI website. Thank you for watching part one of Social Competence Strategies for Families. Please be sure to watch the other videos in this series.

Discover evidence-based strategies and/or promising practices families can use to help their family member with ASD make and keep friends. Learn ways to involve special interests, use social narratives, and role-playing to teach skills to support friendship.