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The Socially Skilled Kids Blog

HOW TO TEACH STUDENTS TO MAKE COMMENTS DURING CONVERSATIONS

 

Many students with special needs struggle to engage in conversations.  Why?  Well, there could be many reasons related to each child’s specific set of challenges and abilities.  But the biggest reason, in my mind, is the number of skills needed, to successfully engage in a conversation.

There are literally dozens of skills needed.  On top of that, these skills change based on the type of conversation, the number of people involved, etc.

Oy! 

 

Is it any wonder that engaging in conversations is challenging for our kiddos!

Something I spend a lot of time on with my students is, Responding To Others in a conversation.  After all, responding, is what makes a conversation a conversation.  Without the back and forth exchange, you have a lecture or a dialogue, not a conversation.

But how many times have you watched a group of your students talking…but no one is listening to the other, no one is responding to the other, and...

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HOW TO TEACH STUDENTS TO ASK QUESTIONS

 

Have you ever watched a group of your special education students having a “conversation?”  It can be very awkward, to say the least. 

To be fair, I see similar behaviors when watching regular education students too. The students are talking…but are they having a true conversation?

A conversation is defined as a back and forth verbal exchange between two or more individuals.  Of course there is sooooooo much more to it. 

When I watch my students{who haven’t used my strategies for having great conversations} engaging in a conversation… what I typically see is one child talking, then another child talking, then another…usually overlapping each other, rarely on the same topic, and sometimes with little to no regard for each other.

One of the skills my students and I work on the most, is responding to others.  This way, a more true conversation can occur. 

 

 

Four Ways To Respond To Others, In A...

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TEACHING SPECIAL EDUCATION STUDENTS CONVERSATIONAL TURN TAKING

 

Engaging in successful conversations can be very challenging for our kiddos with special needs.  

Probably the biggest reason that conversations are challenging for our students, is because, like so many things, there are actually many skills involved.  Conversation may be one word, but the skills involved in executing it, are numerous and complex.  

Conversations involve complex social skills such as, Perspective Taking and Self-Regulation, which are often difficult for students with special needs. 

 

 

Here are my Top 10 picks for the most important skills needed to be taught to special education students, to help them engage in better conversations with their peers:

1. Physical Proximity

How many times have you seen your students talking to someone as they are walking away or as the other person is walking away, talking to someone who is too far away from them to gain their attention or be heard, talking to someone from...

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HOW EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONS AFFECT OUR STUDENT’S SOCIAL SKILLS

 
Functioning {EF} skills are the skills we need to complete everyday tasks.  They are like the air traffic controller of our brains, coordinating everything we do, say and think. 
 
We need EF skills to pursue our goals and to live independent lives.
 
 

 

WHAT ARE THE EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING SKILLS?

 
The most commonly noted EF skills are:
 
  • Planning
  • Organization
  • Task Initiation
  • Time Management
  • Working Memory
  • Metacognition
  • Self Control
  • Attention
  • Flexibility
  • Perseverance

 

Love visuals? Try this handy Executive Functioning Skills poster. 

 

 

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UNDERSTANDING THE DEVELOPMENT {AND SPLINTER SKILLS} OF PERSPECTIVE TAKING

Engaging successfully in Perspective Taking requires a lot of  “splinter skills.”

While there is a developmental scope and sequence for Perspective Taking, for our kiddos, development is usually uneven, and skills are often scattered; leaving us trying to figure out what to teach, much like a puzzle.

 

 

I recommend spending some time figuring out, as best you can, where the student is at {in their perspective taking development} and which skills are lacking.  Then, start your teaching with the developmentally earliest skill on that list, and move along up the scale as you see success.

 

WHAT IS THE TYPICAL DEVELOPMENT OF PERSPECTIVE TAKING?

Here is a very basic overview:

Preschoolers:  These kiddos are just starting to figure out that people can have different feelings than they do.  This is at a very basic level…they mostly still think that other people share their feelings. 

 Kindergarten – Second...

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PERSPECTIVE TAKING: THE MOST IMPORTANT SKILL TO TEACH!

 

WHY IS PERSPECTIVE TAKING SO IMPORTANT?

Perspective Taking is so important for children to learn because they need perspective taking skills to relate to others, to make others feel comfortable around us, and to know how to influence others in a positive way.

To help children develop and improve their perspective taking skills, we need to first explain what perspective taking is, then provide many examples of situations which would require good perspective taking, in order to have a successful social experience.

In other words, define it and practice it.

 

 

Define it:

Perspective Taking is understanding something from someone else’s point of view.

*Note: You do not have to agree with someone, to understand their perspective. Understanding someone’s perspective means that you can cognitively understand why they are doing, thinking or saying something; but it does not mean that you have to agree with it. 

For example; if a student can take the...

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