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Text Transcript: Social Skills Training for Elementary Students on the Autism Spectrum

- I'm not really a public speaker, but I agreed to do this this morning because this is something that I'm very passionate about.

It's something that I do on a regular basis.

So, what I'm sharing with you today is a social skills training for elementary students on the autism spectrum.

I'm Jill McMullin and I'm from New Brunswick, and I work for the St.

Stephen Education Center.

My title is autism resource teacher, and in that area, I am assigned to specific schools.

So, I have five schools that I follow on a regular basis.

So, that means one day, every week I'm at that particular school.

That's a good thing because that means I follow students for long periods of time over several years.

So, in fact, I have a grade 12 student that I followed for some time who is graduating this year.

So, with that, that allows me to do some hands-on things rather than just kind of popping in and then not getting back on a regular basis.

So, what I'm gonna share with you today is one of the groups of students that I've been following for a while, doing some social skills training with, I'm going to share some favorite resources, and then hopefully it'll go well.

Thanks- Sorry, I'm standing in front of it.

One of my favorite resources is this one, which you're probably all familiar with.

It's the one by Jed Baker.

So, the video that I'm gonna share with you today is based off the lessons that come from this.

Another favorite one I have is "Comic Strip Conversations." This I use when I have a student that just doesn't fit into a group setting, that really needs more one-on-one time where we're talking through things.

This is exactly what it says.

You're writing out situations in a comic strip form.

So, many of the little guys that I work with really do better when we put things into comic strip and work things out.

So, that's another favorite that I have.

This is my third favorite, and this is fairly new for me.

It's "Model Me Kids," and if you go to the website, it tells you all about it.

It comes with workbooks for kids, and it also has videos.

So, video model modeling.

So, I know some of my colleagues are doing that today, which is wonderful.

That's another one of my favorites, and this is great because it actually sees kids playing out and demonstrating for them what they want to be doing.

So, I brought those today.

I also meant to say at the beginning, I left you my email.

So, if there's anything here today, I've talked too fast or you wanted to know more about it, then just email me and I can forward you whatever information.

We were working on those particular skills, because they were identified by the parent and by the teacher as things that they weren't doing.

So, they would pass people in the hallway and there'd be nothing, there'd be no response to anybody.

So, we do it very vocally there, and then of course generalize it back.

So, but it is a lot of fun.

I did bring a couple of things, just… You probably saw in the video.

They always start with a first-then, because this is hard for them.

So, we want to make sure that at the end of this, it ends on a good note.

So, they always have a choice board of things that they like to work for.

So, that's what they were choosing from.

So, they got to choose their favorite thing.

I leave about six minutes at the end of the lesson for them just to go play with what they want to do, so that when they return back to class, they're settled and not still hyped up about something that was really hard.

So, you saw them choose their first and then.

Mike always is interested in what everybody else is choosing.

So, he's pretty excited about that.

They also have their reinforcer card that they have in their lap.

So, that keeps them on track so that they can see, "I only have one or two more things to do, "and then this is over." Even though they're having a ball, it's still very hard for them to get through this.

So, this is common with years of doing this over and over, and over.

When we first started, it didn't look so nice as that.

It was a bit hard, but they've come a long way.

So, I'm just gonna point out a couple of things about the lessons and then answer any questions that you might have.

Getting started always comes from data collection.

So, I give the boy's teachers, I give the parents, I give anybody involved with them on a regular basis a skills assessment, and then I cross reference them with the data.

I want to know, "What are the skills that are common "for all of these people, if there are any?" And that's how I build the group.

These boys are in the same group because we identified through the data that they have the same things they needed to work on.

Then that's followed, once I've got the kids and I've got the skills we need to work on, there's always a permission letter that goes home to mom and dad stating what we're gonna be working on.

It's always in the six week format, and then we roll it over to the next skill.

The positive incentives, you saw the choice board, and you saw the first there, and then a token economy.

Then there are four components to the lesson.

So, the first part is the didactic instruction, so, an explanation of what we're going to be working on, then there's the modeling of the skill steps, then the role playing skills with feedback, and then practice in and outside.

What you didn't see was the outside, because we know if I just do it in isolation, the likelihood that it's going to transfer back to the classroom or any place else is pretty nil.

So, there's a whole lesson after it's done here, where we move to the classroom, and then we actually move around the school.

So, when they arrive in the morning with their mom and dad, we're out there in the parking lot, "Don't forget, remember what we practiced yesterday, "when you meet somebody, what are you gonna say?" So, and we keep down on that.

So, if it drops off, we've gotta go back and restart this and do it again until they get it.

Now, these two are the school ambassadors because they've been taught to say, "Hi, everybody." So, when they come in the morning, they're like, "Good morning, welcome!" So, they're placed at doors, they're called the ambassadors and they feel like they've got a big job going on.

So, that worked out well.

Promoting generalization is one of the hardest pieces for this.

This is where I find it most challenging only because teachers are really busy.

So, these guys need reinforcement when they show that skill.

So, sometimes teachers forget, you know, they did it great today, but they need to be told that again tomorrow.

So, my job is when I'm there is to go back and make sure that that skill is still there.

So, as it states here, "One of the goals of skills training "is to improve social functioning outside of the group." This is all great and wonderful.

I have a ball, but if that's the only place that I ever see that skill, then I really haven't been effective.

It's a constant repetition of a skill in a real situation, and so it involves this.

This is a generalization piece, which looks very similar when we're just in isolation.

The role plays are conducted in groups.

So, I would take these boys back to their classroom and involve their peers in what they were working on.

Instructions to practice outside the group, I give a lesson to the moms and dads.

So, they know when they go to the grocery store, if they meet somebody they know, they need to greet them and then I asked them for feedback.

So, we involve the parents, teachers, and then we create instances to reward.

- [Woman] What social skills assessment are you using? Is it the one from-

- Yeah, there's actually one in here, and I kind of expanded on it a bit just to create my own.

- Okay.

- But if you want to email me, I'll email you then a copy, but there's a basic one in here, which is kind of why I like the book.

It's all there.

There's a parent letter in this book as well that you can just adapt to your use.

- [Woman] Excellent, thank you, Jessica.

- Any other questions as well?

- [Woman] When you meet with the parents, how do you teach them to do this?

- I would bring them in on one of the days we were having a lesson and have them involved.

So, they would actually sit with the kid and we would go through the motions as well, so they know what to do at home.

Any other questions? Great, thanks.

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