Teaching Individuals with ASD Skills for Building Relationships and FriendshipsOn August 30, 2019 by Raul Dinwiddie
>>AMANDA RANDALL: Hi my name is Amanda Randall
I’m a behavioral analyst and one of the state coordinators for the Virginia
Department of Education self determination project
I’m very excited to be with you today to talk about implementation strategies for “Teaching
Individuals with ASD Skills for Building Relationships and Friendships”. Hopefully you watched
the previous webinar that we talked about assessment and trying to figure out what are
the skill deficits or the skill accesses that
we use to teach students with autism so we really will
jump into there from here. There are a lot of different curriculum out there to help
you build activities for individuals with autism they
are prepackaged they are awesome a lot of those links
are in your fast facts. And those are great for individuals who need help with activities,
you need help figuring out the expectations that’s
just fine because we really want to make sure that you’re comfortable with implementing
these strategies if there’s someone like me where
your budget is a little limited and you want to look at some free options that’s what we’ll
talk about here today the national Department of
Autism has done a great job of putting everything in one place for you they have looked at various
teaching practices that can be used for students and figure out which ones work really
well for students with autism. So one of the things I want to bring your
attention to is although the things I’ll talk about
are great for individuals with autism, all of these things are just really great teaching
practices so if you’re trying to use this to teach social
skills to an individual with autism you can use it to
teach an individual with an intellectual disability or various individuals in a setting so don’t
just think because it says National Development
Center on Autism that it’s just for autism it’s really
just good teaching practices which is what I like about it. This manual there’s a link
in your fast facts it’s comprehensive but it’s good
so if you don’t sit down with a cup of coffee and
reading some research it’s great but let me get to the meat of it for you this is the
best part of this whole manual.
This is a really cool diagram that talks about evidence-based practices and outcomes that
you can receive by age. So at the top you see various domains or areas
that you want to teach an individual with autism. So social skills, communication, behavior,
joint attention, play, those are all in that top box. Down the side you can see the various
evidence-based practices and there’s a link that takes you directly to this diagram but
if we look a little closer at it, you can see the
evidence-based practices are down the side. They are the ones in dark green. And if you
look, for ages 15 through 2 2 that’s really the age that we’re talking about, that transition
age, you can also back up a little more and look
at those that are good for individuals age 6 to 14
before the age 15 through 22, the practices that are good to teach social skills are antecedent
based interventions, modeling, peer mediated instruction intervention, reinforcement, scripting
social skills training technology and aided instruction and intervention video modeling
and visual support in 45 minutes we can’t talk
about all of those although I wish I could but those
are some of the things that you can also take and package into teaching social skills one
of the really cool things about this writhe is not
only do they tell you what’s available to work with
students with autism but they also tell you how to do it so make sure you go to that Web
site because they have modules they have implementation
steps for every one of these strategies so that if there’s something you’re not familiar
with, they have prepackaged resources to help you to implement that. And I really like that
about this Web site. The one we’re going to focus on is social
skills training and they define it as a group or
individual instruction designed to teach learners with Autism Spectrum Disorder ways to
appropriately interact with peers, adults and other individuals and those are the skills
you need in order to build friendships or relationships
so if you’re not able to do some of the basic interaction things you’re not going to be
able to maintain relationships with friends. Some of the ways that you want to do that
is really looking at how are you going to provide
instruction for those basic-level concepts. Are you going to do role playing or practicing.
And also making sure that you’re giving them feedback as often as possible. When you’re
in an instructional setting and if we go back
to the example of adding 2 plus 2, if they put 5, you’re
going to correct them right then and there. The same with social skills training. If you’re
teaching them a skill and they exhibit the wrong skill, you want to correct them right
then so they can become more comfortable with exhibiting
the right skill. When they walk into a crowded room, they need
to be able to remember your face, remember exactly what they should be doing
in that situation. As you’re looking to begin implementation
make sure it’s age appropriate. Make sure you
observe peers who are typically developing around their age and look at what skills they
are implementing, what skills they are exhibiting,
what they are doing with their other friends and
various types of supports. There are a lot of people who can support someone to build
a friendship or relationship so who are those
people in that individual’s life? Embed activities into other things so it’s
not just when we sit at this table that’s when we
do social skills. Take it into different environments so that they learn that they can exhibit
those skills in any area. So generalizing them across settings. And a crisis management
plan. For individuals with autism, as we talked
about before, you’re probably going to be pushing
them outside of their comfort zone. You may see some behaviors that you don’t want to
see, you may see that individual become anxious
or overwhelmed so make sure you have a crisis management plan so you can be prepared to
remove yourself and remove that individual from
whatever social environment that is but also teaching them crisis management so that if
they get into a social situation or get into a
relationship with a friend that’s not safe, they know how
to exit. We teach individuals with autism that they
need to make friends but we don’t teach them that everybody is not your friend. There are
a lot of people that may try to see that they are
vulnerable and see they don’t have the exact social skills or understand certain nuances,
they may bully them so really helping them to understand
the skills that they need to get out of various social situations.
Looking at their strengths, acquisition and performance, what exactly are they doing how
can we change it, looking at generalization helping them to do it put different people
in different settings. Very specific instructions
and making sure you’re taking it to the natural setting out of the environment where you’re
teaching it. If we go back to those five dimensions of
social skills, I really like this chart, because these
are some of those areas that are identified as general social skills that you need.
And then they look at the five dimensions of social skills to say what do you need to
be able to be successful at peer relationship skills.
What do you need to be successful with self-management skills. You need to be able
to use appropriate loudness and tone of voice. You don’t need to talk too loud but you don’t
need to talk too soft because people need to be
able to understand you so if you’re trying to get someone prepared to transition to the
work setting, those are all things that they have
to be able to do. Because if you want to maintain a
job, you need to be able to maintain the appropriate voice. You need on time. So all of
these social skills are things that are foundational for them to be able to maintain a job —
maintain a job. Encouraging everyone to participate. Learning
and using peoples’ names. That’s something that we take for granted because
we meet somebody and we may remember their name or we may be able to say oh I’m not good
with names but I’m really good with faces. Well, if you’re not good with either, that’s
not going to work out well for you. So you need to be able to try to learn names. And
remember when I meet somebody, even if I have to say the name twice, what are some strategies
that I can remember the same for me I always try to associate that person with someone
that I already know or if I meet someone named Belle I’m like okay I grew up on Belle Street
that’s Belle try to teach strategies to make associations and remember things. So these
are some of those dimensions that are really going to give them some of those transition
age appropriate skills that they need. To go back
to steps of implementation the very first thing is identifying the target skill or behavior.
We have already done that. Collecting baseline
data. That’s what we talked about with the interview and the assessment and the questionnaires.
Now we really want to establish a goal. So we’re going to look at Nic and Larry and
determine how we can establish some social friendship, relationship goals for them.
And determine the environment for implementation. Are we going to do it in a school.
Are we going to do it in their home setting? Then we’re going to, again, collect the data
and monitor for progress.
The key to any skill we’re teaching for our students is to practice, practice, practice,
practice if we’re going to teach someone how to play the guitar, we would make sure we
practiced with them. We would teach them the notes. We would recognize that there’s
certain prerequisite skills that they have. I have something in my — I have a guitar
in my closest I told myself I was going to learn
how to play six years ago. But the book that came
with it to play the guitar I don’t know how to read music so I have decided now I have
to know how to read music so we have to look at those
prerequisite skills for social skills, as well, sorry
about that. So thinking about what do I need to teach
them first before I can teach them how to play
the guitar. What do I need to teach them first before I can teach them to have a friend.
Do it across environments. Do it across various
skills. So try to practice those skills in different
settings and constantly. When you set an expectation for a student, maintain that
expectation. If you have taught them to have eye contact or greet you when they walk into
your classroom, maintain that, that’s the new expectation. So make it constant for them.
If we go back to Nic, remember Nic was a 17-year-old student in high school. He was a
part-time community college student. He lives with his mother. Some of the things we
talked about with Nic is he has some friends. He’s interested in music and Formula 1 racing
and electronics. He has a girlfriend. He’s preparing to graduate soon and he likes to
meet people online. He also needs to have more
social opportunities. One of the things to remember with your students
is, if they have a particular interest, either really do your research or stay away
from it. Because the thing with some of our individuals with autism is we can look on
a one-page blurb about what Formula 1 racing is but
we don’t really know Formula 1 racing like Nic does because Nic is sort of a researcher
of Formula 1 racing so try to figure out some
things that you can have them have natural conversations with. And don’t try to fake
it, so to speak, to have conversations with them
because then you’ll get to a level of conversation where again they are going to get into
excessive speaking or in an area probably more uncomfortable to you because you can’t
keep up with the conversation they are talking
about. As we look at evidence-based practices, those
skills for Nic are here in the social area. So
over on the other column to the far left, you see all of the options that we have for
trying to change those behaviors that we’re looking
for. Particularly for Nic we’re going to look at
the social skills training but you can also bring
into account video modeling, maybe there’s something that I can use, antecedent based
interventions. You always want to do that because how can you manipulate the environment
so you see those social skills you’re looking for. Modeling, there’s an expectation that
you’re setting for the student. How are you modeling
that behavior so that they always show it so
that they see it in you. Peer-mediated instruction and intervention
that’s going into the environment and trying to
determine who are some friends or who are some people that they could talk to. In the
previous video, Nic talked about having a friend in community college. Maybe that’s
someone who through self-management he can practice
some of those skills that he’s learning. Reinforcement, I think this is the most important
because you have to reinforce these skills. If
you’re setting the expectation that they walk into the room, did they make eye contact,
you have to be able to reinforce those skills.
Scripting you can teach them to script I really like scripting but you have to think of that
individual and think will they be able to go off the script if they need to because
a script that you and I have taught the individual and we
have learned it that doesn’t carry over into a lot of
social situations. When you get behind the first hi, how are you, which is like the quick
elevator talk, other than that very few times in life does life operate in a script format.
So scripting just be very careful that you don’t have them rely on scripts too much.
Social skills training, which we’re going to talk about. How can you use technology?
Technology is great, especially for those individuals who are non-verbal, who have some
problems with trying to be verbal when you go into McDonald’s or Starbucks or somewhere
to order a coffee sometimes they can’t interpret
what you are saying so maybe there is an opportunity to use a voice output device or
some pictures or things like that to try to help that
individual become more social and have more interactions with people in various
environments. Video modeling is great because you can not only show them some of the
behaviors that they are trying to exhibit, you can show them some of the behaviors they
are not exhibiting and problem solve and talk
through it with them. And visual supports, as much
as possible, use visual supports for individuals I’ve had people tell me, oh, I don’t need
visual supports, they don’t need visual supports,
they can read. We have visual supports everywhere. We have
stop signs. We have parking signs. We have an exit sign. So don’t take away visual
supports. Use them as much as possible. Don’t overuse them but when they are functional,
make sure you use them. When we’re looking at Nic, one of the things
that his mom talks about is Nic has a hard time making eye contact and I’ve noticed that
with Nic, as well, is there will be a moment where he will look at you and then he’s looking
away or looking down. That making eye contact for an extended period of time becomes
uncomfortable. We all know that you can make eye contact and you can look away because
it does get uncomfortable. So that’s something that we really want to
target for Nic. How are we going to do that? We can do that
in the classroom setting. We can do that through social outings. We can do that through
just figuring out ways for him to practice more.
So the first thing you’re going to do is look at your baseline data for the baseline data
you’ll have to go back to the assessment videos because
that’s where we really did our first interview of Nic.
You can also look in the fast facts to look at the questionnaires where he answered.
But for a goal we’re going to say Nic will improve his ability to look directly into
others’ eyes. That’s a really good goal. Because it’s
pretty specific. What do you want Nic to do. Look into others’ eyes the other goal will
be to improve his ability to hold eye contact for an
appropriate amount of time. We added that goal because he can look at
someone’s eyes. But can he do it for an appropriate amount of time. We don’t want
him staring at everybody when he looks at them
but we want to help him to make that eye contact become more natural.
So the next thing we’re going to look at is where are we going to do it? Are we going
to do it in a classroom setting? At social outings?
These are the two areas I think are very important. For Nic he talked about he’s not
very favorable of the classroom setting. In high
school. But he is favorable of the classroom setting in his college environment. So maybe
that’s where we’re going to look at teaching those skills.
Nic is a very high-level thinker. He’s a very smart individual. He has a lot going for him.
So I think self-management is something that we can definitely try with him. If we went
back to that list of skills that are options for
teaching social skills. Self-management is definitely
one of those. And self-management I think is very important.
Because that carries over into real life. There are certain things that you do that
you say, okay, I can’t do that in that setting. If
you’re someone who you bite your nails or you tap your foot or you may look around,
you’re aware of those awkward social things that
you do. And when you’re in certain settings, you can
say, don’t do that right now. And that’s what we want to teach our individuals with autism.
They have the ability to self manage and tell themselves remind themselves initially it
may be unnatural because they may need a timer or
reminder that tells them don’t do that awkward thing right now but self-management is one
of the best practices.
Modeling, that’s a great instructional strategy because you can model it. You can get
peers to model it. You can also get them to just be aware of what’s going on in their
environment. With modeling that’s what we do when we’re in a social situation. We walk
into a room and we see what everybody else is doing. If everybody is going over here,
to stand in line, that’s what we do. We don’t
just stand there at the door and wait for somebody
to come over to us. We just look, we observe the environment and we say, okay, that’s what
they are doing, I’m going to either do what he’s doing over here or do what she’s doing
over there. That’s modeling.
So they are modeling the behavior that we need.
So teaching through modeling is great for individuals with autism because you teach
them that this is also something that you can do
in the natural environment. Just look at the social
cues of those around you, pick up on those. And follow those individuals.
ReEnforcement. Again we always want to reinforce those behaviors that we see. Make
sure that we’re reinforcing all of the opportunities that they are being social, they are
interacting with friends. And it doesn’t have to come unnatural. It’s someone — like Nic,
he’s a very competent individual. So he may interact
with more people. And you don’t want to interrupt him and say, hey, nice job talking
to that boy over there or nice job making eye
contact. You may want to wait until after so he can continue with that relationship
that he has going on right there. That action that
he has — that social interaction he has going on right
there you don’t want to make it weird or the other person and use visual supports as much
as possible collecting data and figuring out
how can I continue to help him make progress and get
better and better at these skills. As we look at Larry, again, Larry is 20 years
old. He’s in a day support program. He lives with his mother and his father and his brother.
He has some friends and he talked about those friends in the sense of his day support
program people. So maybe we can take those skills that he’s exhibiting with his day support
people and maybe move those to a community setting.
He enjoys his day program, which is really awesome. He likes to work. He struggles
with answering questions. And you were able to see some of that in the interview I did
with him for the assessment. He needs more social
opportunities. And that’s something that his mom expressed. But also when you look at the
goal that his dad has for him to be independent and be out on his own he’ll have
to get exposure to more social opportunities so
he can be successful in an environment without the support of his parents.
So with Larry, we really want to start with something as basic as expressing his own
preferences. I realized quickly when I was doing this assessment
with Larry that just expressing his preferences is a little difficult for him.
And this could be for multiple reasons. Maybe a little
prompt dependent because people have told him what decisions to make. Or maybe it’s
just because he doesn’t want to be there.
So you really have to understand what the results of your assessment are telling you.
But expressing his own preferences is something
that I would really like to look at for Larry. That’s
a major barrier for individuals with autism or anybody if they are not able to express
a preference or make a decision. And we have
to teach them to make choices, offering them choices, and we don’t want to limit the opportunities
to get them to express their preferences and make choices.
So with some of his limited communication skills, this becomes essential for us to figure
out how are we going to offer him preferences
and how are we going to make sure that when he
expresses preferences, we are reinforcing those opportunities and we’re making sure
that we reinforce the correct preference.
So if you look at the baseline data, which is our videos and also some of those
questionnaires that his parents completed, we’re going to create a goal, which is Larry
will improve his ability to make choices and express
preferences. Where are we going to do that? We’re going
to do that in the classroom setting, through social outings, making sure we’re giving him
opportunities in the community to make choices. In a previous setting we took all of our individuals
to Dunkin’ Donuts on Friday and within those 10 minutes of Dunkin’ Donuts they each had
a goal. The goals ranged from meeting someone new, which is a little awkward when you take
them into Dunkin’ Donuts when I look back on it I
don’t know why we set that goal but we wanted them to go into Dunkin’ Donuts and meet
somebody new I don’t know how many of us go into Dunkin’ Donuts with the goal of meeting
someone new probably none of us but we also had individuals had to order something we
had individuals who needed to be able to make
change we — we had some where we needed them to get in the door.
So we taught those skills in the classroom in a discrete setting we taught them those
skills. How do you make change? What do you say if
you want to be someone’s friend how do you do something new and we took them to Dunkin’
Donuts and said go. That worked with some of our individuals with autism the cool thing
is we built a relationship with the people who
worked at Dunkin’ Donuts of course when they saw our van pull up they knew we were coming
but some of the people that were there became the best individuals for interacting with
the individuals with autism because they built
natural relationships with them so when they came
up to them or made a request or said hi, how are you, how exhibited some of these social
skills that we were looking for, they reciprocated
them. They were quick to interact with them and
really enjoyed it so one of the really important things about taking individuals out into the
community is you may have to do some work and build some of those relationships and
also think about is this natural what I’m trying
to get them to do? Is this something that if I wasn’t
here with this group of students or — would I just do this naturally? And if the answer
is no, you might not want to have them do it because
it’s going to look weird for them and we don’t want to isolate them more in a community setting
than they may already be from some of the behaviors in social behaviors.
So with Larry one of the things we can do is peer-mediated instruction and I love this
because it takes two people one who did you see not have autism — one who doesn’t have
autism and one that does and you allow them to teach the other and when I say teach, they
teach each other because the individual without autism really learns to be a lot more tolerant
of autism and the person with autism learns some of those typically developing skills
that they need from their peer. And peer is a term that’s
loosely if you’re in an employment setting you
can use a co-worker peer is just a term that says someone else who is age appropriate and
can offer them skills they may not have.
Modeling, showing him the behavior of making choices, offering him choices,
reinforcement. Reinforcing every opportunity you can of him making a choice or saying a
preference so making sure if he makes a choice or if he tells you his preference, that you
reinforce him, nice job, Larry, I like the way you made that choice I’ll give you this
coffee because I know you chose coffee over water
and you really like coffee. Using visual supports. You’ll see some visual
supports I use with Larry in the fast facts and
that’s very essential for some individuals with autism so they can see what you’re talking
about. If you think back to the videos where I interviewed
Larry, it took him a minute to process some of them. And you can see that it’s cut
up a lot because that interview was a little longer
than the one minute that you saw. Some of that is because I had to repeat the
question or show him that visual support that I
used to help him understand the question. And the same with Nic, you’re going to collect
your data and monitor progress. So if I’m trying to teach them how to make choices,
how often is he making choices now? And now that
we’ve been implementing the visual supports and implementing some peer-mediated instruction
where his peer is trying to get with him and trying to help him make choices, where is
he now? How often is he making choices? Is he
doing it in the natural environment is it starting to generalize so he knows when he
has the option to make choices.
So going back to the tips for implementation and I keep going back to this. I think I’ve
showed this slide five times. But I want to understand the importance of I’m doing things
in an orderly fashion. And making sure that you’re
sticking to how to break things down. So you want to break the tasks down into small
steps. Collect your data, make sure you collect data. Don’t just haphazardly say I’ll
pick a skill we’ll teach everybody in the classroom
eye contact or today at work we want everybody to make eye contact that’s not going to work
you have to break it down into smaller steps and decide is that a skill that that individual
actually needs. Build on the strengths. Look at the deficits.
Pick the peers. Don’t hand pick cherry pick the person who you initially want to
teach the skill with because it’s really important to be
someone who already likes that individual. If it’s a — if it’s someone who walks right
past that individual with autism at work and never makes
eye contact with them could care less they are
even there in the environment that’s not the person you want to pick to teach them new
skills. You want to pick someone who cares for the
individual so that it becomes a natural relationship. And make it fun. As much as
possible, make sure that it’s engaging for the
individual with autism. It’s fun to them. They love it. Because that’s the only way
that it’s going to sustain or last over time. If you
again manufacture this relationship and it’s really
artificial and they don’t have anything in common to talk about, it’s going to be hard
for that to last over time because it’s not natural.
If we think back to various environments where we have made friends or colleagues and if
we don’t keep in contact with them, it’s probably because it was just situational. So we want
to try to make sure that something is fun for them so they can take it to other areas.
Looking at visual supports, I really like this visual support because it gives him options
for Larry. What are some of the options if I want
to join in with other people who are doing something? If everybody is playing a video
game or listening to a certain song, how do I invite
myself to join? Or how do I go over to Johnny and say, Johnny, will you come over and listen
to my music with me? Those are very specific skills. And using visual support can help.
Because it really takes all of the language, which Larry has a language barrier. So if
you take that barrier away and just have him use visual
supports that can help it become easier for him.
Also making sure that your visual supports are age appropriate.
If you look at this and it talks a lot about play, Larry is probably not playing that much.
Nic is probably not playing that much. If anything
they may both be playing video games which they did both talk about enjoying so making
sure that you take the visual supports and make
sure that they are age appropriate and enhance — this enhancing their opportunities for
communication. Here is another visual support. And this one
really goes into things that you don’t want to
do when you’re trying to make a friend or interact with someone.
One of the things that we have to think about is our individuals with autism may have some
behaviors that people who are the same age that they are think are weird or just don’t
want to be around them because of some of those behaviors.
On the other side, you may have individuals with autism that individuals in
the environment love them because they are just so
sweet and just so different, they just love them.
So really looking at what are some of the things that I need to teach them? Maybe they
need to not exhibit some of those behaviors in environments. But also understanding, again,
when is someone picking on me? Or when is someone bullying me? So they are not in a
situation where it becomes uncomfortable for them or they are not in a situation with an
unsafe friend. So I really like this one. Because it says,
what are some of the things that friends should not do? So not only is it saying what are
the things that I should not do to another person.
But what are some of the things that my friends should not do to me?
I think that that’s something that a lot of individuals with and without disabilities
get hurt by people because they weren’t aware that
that person was not really looking out for their best
interests. So I think this is something very important
that we have to teach individuals with autism. So then on the other column you’ll see friendship
tips so what are some of the things I need to do I need to stop and think. Maybe
I need to mind my own business and I really like
that MMOB there’s a time when you have to walk away and mind yourself own business inside
voice, pay attention, listen, stay on topic, keep personal space. Nice eyes this is cool
because it moves away from eye contact saying what
are nice eyes you would have to define this for the
individual with autism maybe it’s not making crazy eyes and staring at you the whole time.
But this is a visual support for someone like Nic if he needed this I would put it on his
cell phone because that’s something that’s not weird
how often do you pull out your cell phone and just
look at it. It’s no longer awkward. It’s something where you can have a reminder there and
remember I’m about to go into my study group with all of my college buddies, what are some
of the things I need to make sure I need to remember
when I’m in that college group for someone like Larry maybe he can have it on his cell
phone, as well. And maybe he needs the actual checkoff sheet so he can check off, yes, I’m
doing that, yes, I’m having an inside voice. You
can also use it as a reminder for someone like Larry. Hey, Larry, look at this, are
you having an inside voice? Are we staying on topic? Is
that what we’re talking about right now? So really thinking about how can you use visual
supports to the advantage of the individual with autism.
This is a one pager and again I am one of the state coordinators for the self determination
project and this is one of my favorite tools because it looks at the individual in a positive
way. What are some of their strengths? So when
you’re trying to implement social skills, if some of
Nic’s strengths are English, social studies, writing and poetry maybe a poetry group would
be something he’s interested in maybe that’s
a place he can go in and build some natural relationships and see that he’s really being
successful. Because if we put him in an environment where
he’s not interested, it’s an area where he’s not successful, some of those social skills
are going to not become important to him because all
he’s going to be thinking of, how do I survive? Or how do I get out of the situation?
The other thing is looking at their interest, their preferences. Their needs.
How can I really take these and put them into situations so that they can be successful.
The needs area is really important because just as he needs those things academically
perhaps he needs those as well when you’re trying to teach him social skills maybe he
needs you to print the notes out so if we go back
to visual supports, Nic is a very capable young man.
He can read. He can talk. He may not need pictures but he tells us right here he needs
printed notes so that’s a form of visual support so how can I make printed notes for him to
help him understand the social skills. He needs
a structured environment so knowing that let’s you
know that if you teach him a skill and then you throw him into an environment where there’s
a lot of people coming at him trying to talk
to him, it’s overstimulating, he may not be able to
demonstrate some of those skills that you taught him. Really taking that into contact
and saying how can I really teach him what he
needs to learn and then slowly teach him to put them
into the environment where he may have to exhibit them.
Depending on the type of person you are, I used to be the type of person where I could
have a million people around me and the only thing that I would know is what’s going on
right here in front of me. And I’m going to have
a blast. In the last couple of years, if there’s a
million people around me all I can look at is the exit
sign and try to figure out how do I get out of here.
So you really have to determine where that individual is at that moment. And determine
where are they the most comfortable. How can you teach them to function where they want
to function. Because maybe they will never want to go to a concert with a million people.
Don’t force that on them. So really trying to keep it natural to who
they are. When you looked at the videos of the parents,
it was very important to see what they thought were strengths for their child but
also what they thought were goals for their kids and
also what deficits they had. Parents are some of the most important people
that you’re going to bring into building social skills and building friendships and
relationships with individuals, no matter what age they
are. Because if they are still involved in their child’s life, they can help to advocate
for their child. And I say child to say any age. Because
I’m still my mother’s child at my age. So they can help advocate for their child.
They can be social coaches. Maybe they can take some of those skills that you have put
into the form of a visual support and when they are
at church they can coach them to exhibit some of those skills or to talk to that one person
over there who always tries to interact with them
but they really don’t know what to say so hey go
talk to Kara she always tries to talk to you. They are really good social coaches. They
can create social opportunities if you say we’re
going to start on a new job at the hospital next week
and I really want you to just take them to the hospital and let him meet and mingle in
the lobby or I want you to take him out and let him
mix and mingle with other people so when he goes to
his new job he’s not as uncomfortable so they can really help create some of those social
opportunities for you. They observe their student in various settings.
So they know some of the problems that you might have when you take them into these
social settings. They can tell you some of the
problems that they have seen occur time and time again when they try to have a relationship
and maybe that relationship isn’t as successful as we want it to be.
When you’re looking at the long-term outcomes, we really want individuals with autism to
be able to recognize and manage their emotions. That’s the key to any successful or healthy
relationship is recognizing what role you play in that relationship. So that’s something
that’s really important for individuals with autism.
They have to set an achieve positive goals. If you’re setting them up all the time and
trying to teach them social nuances and social cues and having expectations and setting skills
and they are never, ever being successful, that’s really going to change their views
of being social. You may turn back to some of that
anxiety that they already had about being in the
social situation. They have to learn how to demonstrate care
and concern for others. A lot of times individuals with autism spend so much time
being cared for, you really have to teach them to
care about other people. Some of that initially may be a little artificial.
You know we teach someone to say how are you? How are you doing today? And then
that individual says, how are you today? And they ask the question because they don’t
really hear them. They don’t wait to listen to
see how that person is. They may walk away right after they say that. So really teaching
them to listen, repeat what people are saying, and really understand what’s going on.
Long-term outcome is to be able to maintain a relationship — relationships over time
and make responsible decisions. I can’t stress
enough how individuals with autism get bullied in
the community. And that’s outside of their schools they get bullied in the workplace.
So we really want to teach them how to make responsible
decisions. How to walk away from a relationship that’s not healthy. And how to
handle those situations effectively. That’s really important for individuals with
autism. Those social skills help them to develop those
skills that employers want. They want them to be able to learn new skills. They
want them to be able to listen and communicate orally. If you have a problem at work, you
have to be able to go make eye contact and talk to
your boss and tell them what’s going on. You have to be able to adapt to certain situations.
Work today may not be the same as work tomorrow. When you — when you are in
the natural setting in the community, you can’t
guarantee that every day is going to look the same.
So really try to help them to be creative thinkers. And problem solvers.
Personal management. We talked about self-management. And that is listed as one of
those evidence-based practices that are really good for students with autism.
So that self-management is going to teach them how to have those skills they need to
have self-esteem and know that they are okay in
the community setting. They are okay when they
go out hang out with their friends because they know the skills they need, they know
how to manage themselves to maintain those skills.
So once you begin teaching these skills, so when I talked about with Nic that we’re going
to teach him through some modeling, when I talked
about with Larry we were going to use visual supports and teach them in one-on-one settings
first how will we maintain those skills acceptance is the Morris important thing accepting
that there are some things about this individual that just is if they love the Civil
War or love to talk about trains you can’t stop them
from having a passion for those things but you can help them to learn to take those
conversations that they really like to have and tailor them to work in various situations.
You can also teach them that everybody doesn’t want to hear about the Civil War.
Everyone doesn’t want to hear about trains. So really you’re not going to change their
personality. But offer them some new skills of
how to use some of those interests that they have.
Offer opportunities for practice all the time. As much as possible. How can you offer
them opportunities to practice those social skills. If you’re in a school setting and
that student isn’t in the classroom with their general
education peers, how do you get them in that classroom. How do you get them away from that
table with all of the other students who are in the special education class but how do
you get them meeting peers walking through the
school talking with people sitting at the lunch table with different people.
If they are in the work setting, how do you take them beyond just whatever their job is.
If their job is to empty the trash for the day
or if their job is to distribute the food for the day,
how do you take that skill and say, now let’s practice some of those social skills that
we learn when you deliver the food to the people in
the hospital. Opportunities for generalization. So really
taking those skills and taking them to various settings, to various people.
And increasing the expectations. Eye contact is not the end of social skills.
It’s just the very beginning. Because the beginning is being able to have some of those
interactions of shaking hands and making eye contact.
But the end is having a life-long friend. Or having some relationships that are long
lasting and someone who you feel like when you’re
in a situation where you’re distressed or not
having a good day, that’s someone you can call or text or go sit on their couch and
talk to them. That’s really where we want to get our individuals
with autism. So some of the final thoughts here from the
parent and the individuals with autism.>>People need to be put in situations where
they can fall without completely busting their face. Situations where they can progress.
But they are not going to fall back so much that
they never want to come outside again. In elementary school, my best friend, we became
friends because my guidance counselor, she was his mother. And she took us both out
of the classroom, put us in her office and said,
here, play with legos. And one way it could have went is that it was weird and we just
played with legos and never spoke again.
Or we become friends because we make jokes about playing with the legos because we
made penguins and we made them jump off the counter and we would pretend to be a news
reporter saying another penguin has jumped off and we thought it was funny. And if we
hadn’t done that, I would — I would never talk to him again, he would just be another
person like he always was. No harm, no foul.
So just things like that and adapting it to where that person is in their development.
So that they are not hampered by that one time
that they are able to progress further and further.
>>It needs to start early. It needs to start in elementary school. Even if you set them
up with friends. You may see that they are talking to somebody in the lunchroom. But
look at that playground. Where is that kid? Is
he the last one picked? You need to make sure they are engaged with your kiddo. That they
understand what his unique abilities are. His
disabilities. But focus on, you know, what they are good at. Don’t worry about what they
are not good at. But don’t let them be the one sitting at the edge of the ball field
or the last one picked. Get out there and, you know, talk
about it. You know, have a class and talk about, you
know, their uniqueness. And what other kiddoes can do to help them.
And otherwise they feel so isolated.>>I would like to add that people with disabilities
in social relationships should go hand in hand because they need — they really need
that relationship with another person. They should have friends of their own.
And like normal kids, normal adults, they have that relationship with other people.
People, young people with disabilities should have that same relationship, social relationship
with their peers.>>One of the things that I find that doesn’t
happen in the educational environment is that students in special education are socializing
with mainstream students and that’s important because the whole world is not made — it’s
not separated between special education and mainstream.
It is important for our youth to be able to talk to anybody. And that is something through
the school activities. It should be something that starts early on. 14, even junior high
school age, start the conversation with their parents
or their caregivers early enough where they can
embrace it. Where they can find activities to encourage it.
So often we want the special ed activities. Or we want the disability activities only.
But we need to also think about how our youth
will interact in the mainstream world. Transition and —
>>Transition and social skills with young adults, it’s a process, it’s not overnight.
And it’s important to get the team to work together
on the same process.>>Those friendships and relationships that
those parents are referring to, those only come
if the students have the ability — the social skills they need to try to build those friendships
and relationships. You really have to make sure
that you’re teaching those skills so that they can
get to the higher level of friendships and relationships.
They don’t just happen overnight. It takes a lot of time for all of us who have really
good friends know that it took us a while to build
those relationships. One of the things I want you to do, I really
love this Web site called understood.org and it’s
a Web site they have a lot of opportunities for you to try to really see the disability
from the point of view of the individual with a disability.
So what I want you to do is right now cross your arms, fast. Okay. Now look at how you
crossed your arms. Uncross them. And I want you to cross them the other way. How did
that go? You had to sort of think about crossing your arms the other way. What I want you
to do is from now on cross your arms the other way for the rest of your life. You’re thinking,
wow, why? You know, but if you cross your arms the other way, you’re thinking like an
individual with autism. You’re thinking that doesn’t come naturally. I have to really think
about it. So the same is with our individuals with autism. We’re asking them to change what
they are doing naturally and all of a sudden do something different. We’re asking them
to cross their arms a different way for the rest
of their life. Whereas these individuals are between the ages of 15 and 22 maybe older.
And they have been crossing their arms with the
left hand on top for years. It’s not going to happen overnight. You have to teach them
how to change those behaviors. We have to teach
them to become comfortable with crossing their arms the other way.
So it’s going to take a lot of support from you. A lot of support from the parents. And
a lot of changing what you do and how you interact
with the individuals. The main thing that we want to do as providers
is try to help the last day of school look like
the rest of their life. There are a lot of goals that the parents have for their child
or a lot of goals that you may have for that student when
they are trying to get a job, when they are trying
to get their first girlfriend or when they are trying to even make a friend.
So you really want to try to say how can I make today when they are leaving me look like
the rest of their life? How am I giving them the skills that they need to have a family?
How am I giving them the skills they need to maintain
a job? So with that being said, I hope you will look
at all of the resources that are in the fast facts.
I hope you’ll email me questions if you have questions. This is just a brief overview but
I think it’s something that can really hem your students
with autism to be — really help your students with autism to have more successful relationships.
So thank you.