Social skills instruction for K‑8th grade children on the autism spectrum requires an emphasis on visuals, or “show‑teaching” techniques, rather than language‑based instruction. This book fulfills that need, consisting of easy‑to‑use, step‑by‑step lesson plans with a wealth of visual tools and aids for teaching children with high‑functioning autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. These K‑8 lesson plans, featuring explicit IEP goals, can be incorporated into both General Education and Special Education classrooms and offer both individual and small‑group instruction.
The lessons are broken down into three main areas:
Appropriate Communication, and
Working Successfully with Others
Each lesson includes a detailed plan with clear directions on how to present the concepts and activities along with a list of what materials are needed. The items are mostly common objects that are used in ways designed to bridge the gap between typical verbal instruction methods and easier-to-process visual and hands-on representations.
Moyes also gives some good guidelines on how to organize the groups, including how to bring in typically developing peers. Two very important points that she highlights in her opening chapter remind us that we must also maintain an awareness of each participant’s own understanding and challenges:
Firstly, she instructs, “In your future interactions with a child on the spectrum, please make sure you consider whether he is exhibiting problematic social behavior because he is incompetent or because he is noncompliant.” Boy, isn’t that what we all want to know! It’s often hard to find the answer to this question, but I will say that having the adults who are working with my son understand this distinction goes a long way towards helping me trust them.
Secondly, she reminds, “We must not forget that children’s social deficits do not occur in isolation of their cognitive and language deficiencies.” This is so true, and a good program will take into account the whole picture of the child’s current abilities and challenges. A leader who can find the balance between motivating and frustrating a child is a person to be treasured!
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Note: I received a review copy of this book for free, but all opinions are my own. I am an affiliate of Future Horizons and receive a small amount of compensation for any sales made using the promotional code provided. You can use the code INTERRUPTED when ordering books or other materials – or even conference registrations – to receive 15% off plus free shipping in the continental US.