Social Competence Strategies for Families 2

Video Transcript

Hi I am Julie Short and welcome to part two in the social competence strategies for family. In this episode  we will discuss evidence based strategies and/or promising practices that have been effective for use with individuals with autism spectrum disorder.  

My grandson doesn’t do well when I take him out in the community. It’s hard to take him to the grocery store because often times he will scream when we enter. How can I help him successfully participate in community activities?”

Let’s take a look at some strategies that can help your child/family member successfully participate in community activities. We will look at the benefits of Priming, Visual Supports, Social Stories and Video Modeling.

We are all more comfortable when we know what to expect. Whether it be what the weather is going to be like, when our paychecks will come, what time our appointment is and so on. When we prime our child/family member with information about what to expect, we are lessening their anxiety.  
Letting a child know what to expect, even in terms of daily activities, is critical for a child who has difficulty regulating themselves. What you do to help the child understand what is going to happen and what is expected of them, will help them respond appropriately.

Here’s a priming example. Let’s say you are going to the grocery store. You can explain to them where you’re going, about how long it will take and what items you need and then where you will go afterwards. Also letting them know if they are patient, you will stop and let them choose a video. By doing this example of priming you are preparing them ahead of time and lessening their anxiety about going to the store.

Here's a visual schedule of going to the store that you can show to the child while you are describing what is going to happen. Remember, you DON’T have to be an artist. You only want to have a visual representation to show the events, the beginning, the steps in between and the ending. And this schedule is one the child can take with them (remember that pictures are there after the words are gone and the schedule will help your child remember what is going to happen.)

Here are some books to help you with priming. If you live in Ohio, these books are available through the OCALI lending library at no cost. Click on the Lending Library button at for more information. These can be checked out in our lending library.

Here is an app. This app can help prime individuals about challenging locations in the community. Model Me Going Places 2 is a visual tool that provides various locations and each location contains a photo slide of children modeling appropriate behavior. Locations include hairdresser, mall, doctor, playground, grocery store and a restaurant.  

Visual supports help the individual with ASD understand what is happening when they are in the community. These are examples that we all may use on a daily basis. The visual schedule we used in priming is an example of a visual support. Research shows that people with ASD show strength in visual learning.

Visual supports make spoken language visual and the pictures last even after the words have been forgotten. Visual supports can organize a sequence of events, they can be used to remind a child to do something that’s easy to forget. They can be used to give directions, help in transition from one activity to another, and provide cues for expected behavior.

These are some examples of visual supports you can use at home or in the community to help your child/family member understand social expectations. A “wait” card can be helpful to use at the grocery store, amusement park, restaurant, etc. when it’s necessary for your child to remember what is expected rather than telling them repeatedly to wait. With the card, the child has a constant reminder.
When holidays are approaching, this can be stressful for some children or individuals with autism because the typical routine has changed. This card enables them to see and understand who will be coming for a visit. A schedule helps the individual prepare for social activities. You can create your own schedule for an upcoming activity.

To learn more about visual supports, check out these resources. AIM is a free resource at the OCALI website. There is a module that goes into detail about visual supports.

Some of our children can benefit from Social Stories, a type of social narrative. The name Social Stories was copyrighted and is owned by Carol Gray.  She helps parents and professionals consider the perspective of the child while describing a situation, skill, or concept in terms of relevant social clues, perspectives and common responses. A social story is a process that results in a product. Each social story is developed according specific guidelines that are based on the learning characteristics of children with ASD. This results in text and illustrations with defining characteristics, among them an overall patient and reassuring quality.

Your child or family member with ASD may have a difficult time with typical community activities. This social narrative helps to prepare a Middle School child for what will happen and what is expected of him when he goes to Sunday School. First, he sits with his parents until some activities are completed, then he and all the children get up to go to their Sunday School classroom. It acknowledges that his Sunday School teacher may be different some weeks. It also reminds him about letting others answer questions about the Sunday School lesson. It reminds him that when he’s dismissed, he can go back to find his parents.

Here is another Social story that may help when you are experiencing problems while shopping with your child or family member with ASD. He or she may want something off the shelf and may have a difficult time with being told “no, you can’t have that”  This social story may help the child understand what they may not always get what they want.

Here are some resources on social stories by Carol Gray. You can also visit her website at

Many children with ASD love to watch videos. You can use videos to show your child/family member the expected behavior. It involves finding a video of someone engaging in the behavior you want to teach. The video cam then be viewed later by the learner to help them understand the expected behavior.  For example, if your child has a difficult time getting a haircut, you may want to show a video of a child getting a haircut and how to sit appropriately so the barber or beautician can trim their hair. You may also create your own video to provide an example for your child or family member.

To create a video model of a social behavior, you can gather family or friends to help. First, figure out what community activity you want to teach. Next, find those family members or friends to help out. If they are younger, you might want to get permission from their parents. Tell everyone what they will be doing, get the set ready, and start taping!  Next, show the video to the individual and talk about the activity. Then have the person try the social situation and decide whether the video worked and just needs repetition, or if it needs updated.

There are a number ways to capture the video you may need. You can check the popular website YouTube and put in the name of the skill you are targeting in the search box, such as, soccer game and you will get a list of videos you could use to teach the expected behavior in playing soccer. Be sure to watch any video you use from the internet in its entirety before you show it to your family member.

Thank you watching part two of social competence strategies for families please be sure to watch the other videos in this series.

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Evidence-based strategies and/or promising practices can help families guide their family member to successfully participate in community activities. In this second segment, learn the benefits of priming, visual supports, Social Stories™, and video modeling when teaching social skills.

Social Competence Strategies for Families Video Series

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