Do you have students on your caseload that struggle with initiating communication during social situations? Students struggling with initiating may benefit from an audio conversation script.
When working with students with social pragmatic weaknesses, specifically autistic students, learning the frameworks of conversation can be overwhelming. Furthermore, having strategies that can provide that framework without verbally prompting them is a great solution. Mainly, because fading verbal prompts is REALLY hard. Our students can easily become dependent on our verbal prompts to initiate communication. And, we don’t want that do we!
Help Your Students Initiate Communication Without Verbal Prompts
There isn’t anything better than watching a student initiate novel communication independently. Personally, I LOVE it! Most importantly, our jobs are to help our students be successful with independently communicating. Therefore, the strategies we use need to help provide structure without overly prompting them, if possible. If you have been finding yourself verbally prompting a lot, that might be an indicator to try an audio script!
Not only was I verbally prompting all the time, but I also wasn’t seeing a lot of generalization from doing that intervention. That’s how I got started implementing more conversation scripts to help support my autistic students. Just by adding in a visual or auditory framework, I was able to reduce my verbal prompts and see more success with independent participation in conversation tasks. In this post, I am going to be sharing 3 FREE apps to make an audio conversation script for your students.
For those of you not sure what a conversation script is, you can head to this blog post to read more about them HERE.
Benefits of Using an Audio Conversation Scripts
If you were trying to figure out if an audio conversation script is a good fit for your student, check out these benefits:
Audio scripts are easy to make and cost-effective with FREE apps.
You can make the audio conversation script on an iPad or phone which is easy to add to for anyone using the script with a student (this could be great for travelling SLPs.)
Parents can make audio scripts to use at home and you can help train them.
Using an audio conversation script can help you, staff or caregiver reduce using verbal prompts to teach communication skills.
You can increase your student’s participation in a variety of social communication activities.
Research Study Showing Success with Using Audio Conversation Scripts
A research study by Topus, C., & Ulke-Kurkcuoglu, B. (2019) found that when they used an audio script it increased verbal interaction with autistic children. In the study, they used an audio script to teach 5 to 6-year-old autistic boys to initiate interactions with their parents during play. Specifically, the children were taught to activate an audio recorder to play an utterance (e.g., Let’s play with the duck).
When the child activated the recorder, they repeated the utterance to initiate the interaction with their parent. Subsequently, the parent would then respond to the initiation with a phrase or action that matched the request.
As the child learned the audio script, the audio recording was slowly faded (word by word) until the child started independently initiating the phrase. Based on this study, all the children maintained and generalized verbal initiations across different types of toys and settings.
The positive outcomes from this study particularly demonstrate that this intervention can increase initiation and easily generalizes to different people, items and settings. It’s important to remember that not only do we want success in our speech sessions, but we also want to see those skills used across the child’s day!
As promised with this blog post, I am excited to share that you can easily make audio conversation scripts with FREE apps. Here are my top four choices for creating audio conversation scripts:
PlayButton byAardustry LLC Is an app that can be downloaded on your iPhone or iPad. In particular, this app is perfect to make an audio script on a parent’s, staff, or school iPad. Ideally, this means that the audio script is available to all parties that work with the student.
During the month of December, I like to keep things festive, yet simple. And I like to use the same theme/book with as many groups as I can. The Gingerbread Man is a theme I use every year with my younger students. We can work on story retelling, vocabulary and perspective taking skills. Check out these activities I did last year to work on improving perspective taking using gingerbread man cookies. I find that the holiday season opens up opportunities for teaching perspective-taking and thinking about others. Today, I wanted to share a Body in the Group lesson I did with my 3-5th Special Day Classroom students using a gingerbread man hunt.
What Is Body In The Group?
Body in the Group is a vocabulary term used from the Social Thinking Curriculum to explain how people demonstrate that they are part of a group conversation or social situation when they physically keep their body in a proximity of the group. When students work on group projects, or talk together on the playground, they show that they are thinking about group members by positioning their bodies nearby.
By teaching our students the concept of having their bodies in the group, we build their social awareness. They can better understand how to show others that they are thinking about them just by where they position their bodies.
What Is Brain In The Group?
Have you ever been in a place where your body is physically sitting in a group, but your brain is far, far away. Not sure why I just thought about my last department meeting? Hmmmmm……
We can teach our students the importance of having both their bodies and their brains in the group in order to show others that they are thinking about them. We show others that our brains are in the group by contributing relevant questions and comments that are on topic with what the speaker is talking about. This concept impacts our students in academic and social situations a LOT! If our students do not have their brains in the group, they miss a lot of information in the conversation. Typically, when my student’s brains aren’t in the group, they make off-topic comments. They will also talk only about their interests. When our brain is out of the group, this makes people feel like we aren’t listening to them. Which translates as rude behavior.
How You Can Work On Body In The Group On A Gingerbread Man Hunt
Has your school ever done a gingerbread man hunt during December? The teacher usually tells the students that there is a gingerbread man on the loose around the school. Students have to read the clues left by the gingerbread man to figure out where he went. It is a pretty fun activity that pairs well with the book!
I decided that I wanted to do this activity with my K-2 and 3-5 SDC classrooms. The teachers and staff helped with the activity. I printed up a FREE gingerbread man hunt and bought candy canes as the end of the hunt class surprise.
Before we went, I went over the hidden social rules that when we go somewhere as a group, we have to keep our bodies close by, so we stay as a group. We role played standing and walking as a group (no lines with with this activity).
Body in the Group Lesson Plan During The Gingerbread Man Hunt
As we looked for the clues and walked to the new locations to find the next clue, students had to practice staying in the group. You would be amazed how hard this was for some of my students. During the activity, I had to pause as we walked to remind students who had their body in the group and who didn’t. We talked about how others could be feeling when people walked away from the group. Some perspectives you could share with your students are as follows:
The teachers worry that you will leave the group.
When your body is out of the group, other students will be annoyed that the class has to stop the hunt until your body is back in the group.
Teachers and students will think you aren’t interested in doing the hunt if your body leaves the group.
Students who walk ahead of the group might make others feel like you aren’t thinking about them. You are only worried about getting to the next location and not waiting for friends.
Students may be thinking, “Where is he/she going?”
What other perspectives/skills can you teach your students during this activity?
Work With Older Students and Need Holiday Therapy Resources?
I know a lot of times SLPs working with middle school and high school students struggle with finding themed resources that appeal to their students. The gingerbread man hunt, for example, is a great idea for the younger crowd. I was thinking you could try this same activity, but go on a hunt for a stash of snowballs. Not sure how your students would like it, but I know my middle school students in the mod-severe classrooms would probably get into that type of hunt. With my older students, I use YouTube videos from the Elf movie and Simon’s cat holiday/winter videos. These video clips are great for working on vocabulary, summarizing, perspective taking and predicting! And they are free, low prep and funny (this is the SLP’s dream). Check out those blog posts for how I use them and to find links to some of the videos. Planning activities for your life skill classrooms? You can make sugar cookies with gingerbread cookie cutters to give to family or friends. Or, pick a gingerbread recipe and prepare the treat for school staff members.
What Holiday Activities Do You Use To Target Social Pragmatics And Body In The Group?
I would love to know what activities and lessons you plan using a winter or holiday theme to work on social pragmatic skills. Share in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Progress monitoring social skill goals can be tricky — especially perspective-taking goals! Anyone else feel this way? I find that planning and conducting social skill therapy is a lot easier than measuring and quantifying a student’s progress. Of course, I can “see” my students’ progress based on their performances, but having hard data to support my therapy is something that I am continually working on getting better at.
My Journey With Progress Monitoring Speech Goals
My two biggest professional goals over the past two years have been to improve my ability to write measurable goals and to improve on being more consistent with my data collection. It isn’t that I don’t understand how to write measurable goals or take data. My challenges stem from not having the time to make sure my goals are aligned with my students’ needs and are clear enough to measure in the real life therapy session, or to find the resources and materials to help me take data on student progress. The mixed group element always adds a nice new layer of distraction and overwhelm, too. Ha.
Tips For Improving Your Skills With Progress Monitoring
I have found the best way to get better at progress monitoring is to do the following:
Learn from your other SLP colleagues. Ask others how they are doing it and try their suggestions to see what works for you.
Set a professional goal. Write down your intention to get better at writing goals, data collection, and/or progress monitoring. Pick a specific disorder you want to improve on and only focus on that disorder until you feel more confident.
Think through your goals and what they will look like in your session. Make sure your goals are clear and can be measured in a “real” session. Plan out how you will measure them (with a rubric, with a quick warm up before the main content lesson, during station rotations, etc.).
Find resources and materials that will help you collect data. Have you ever written a goal and then realized that you have NO materials for that area of need? I have! I am not saying you shouldn’t write a goal in an area of need just because you don’t have materials, but as you are in that goal writing process, reach out to colleagues or your district for support with getting materials. Pinterest andTPT are always great places to start as well!
Resources To Help Progress Monitor Social Skill Goals
I wanted to share some tips and resources I have found for progress monitoring social skill goals. I highly recommend checking out Maureen’s Social Language Rubrics, and SLPtoolkit has great social pragmatic rubrics and goals too. When you are struggling to quantify the presence of a social skill, I would consider using a rubric to take data. I also have some social skill data sheets in my TPT store that may help with quantify skills you are observing during your lessons.
When I progress monitor students’ goals, I try to set up how many cues/prompts I will provide during that data collection period. This helps me not to over prompt and also shows me what level of progress they are making.
Example Goals For Perspective Taking In Social Skills Therapy
Provided a hypothetical social situation and/or real social situation, (student) will explain how others are feeling and/or thinking about (him/her) and share at least one way (he/she) can modify (his/her) actions, words, or body language with 80% accuracy and no more than (insert independence and/or prompting level) as measured by therapist observational data collection using a rubric and/or tally of opportunities over three sessions.
Provided a verbal story, photo scene and/or video clip, (student) will make at least 1 prediction about what the person may need to do next in the social situation with 80% accuracy (insert independence or prompting needed) as measured by informal data charting over three sessions.
By (date), Provided a verbal story, photo scene and/or video clip, (student) will explain what the person could be thinking and/or feeling and at least one clue (body language, facial expression, action, background knowledge) from the photo, video or story to support (his/her) social inference with 80% accuracy with no more than (insert level of prompting) as measured by informal data charting over three sessions.
Resources To Help Measure Perspective Taking Speech Goals
For my social skill students working on making social inferences and explaining the non-verbal clues, I will use Simon’s Cat videos from YouTube (FREE) as stimulus items to collect data. We watch a small portion of the video, then I pause it. I ask the student, “How is the cat or man feeling?” and then I ask “How do you know this?”. I take data on those two things separately and prompt as necessary.
If the student is working on making predictions, then I will pause the video and have them make a guess what might happen next and the clues that helped them come up with that prediction.
You can use wordless short videos to do the same concept. Here is my YouTube channel playlist for some videos I use. If you have any great wordless short videos, hit reply and let me know (I always need more videos)!
I also use Google photos, Pixabay, or my social inference flipbook to take data on interpreting non-verbal social clues and making a social inference about what the person could be thinking.
When I need to work on answering social inferencing questions and what are people thinking, I also use real photos from my Social Skills Breaks Curriculum. This curriculum also includes social situations that I will read to students and have them explain what others could be thinking.
Or I will use social situations from my Help! I Need Social Skills to have students identify how others could be feeling or thinking based on the social situation.
Do you have some tools and resources that you use for progress monitoring social skill goals? I am always trying to get better with progress monitoring and would love to know what you have learned!
Was this helpful for you? Would you like to see more goals and how I try to take progress monitoring data? Let me know in the comments!
Finding resources that can be used to target a lot of speech goals is super helpful for the busy SLP. Using Simon’s Cat videos in speech therapy can help with planning a mixed group lesson.
What Are Simon’s Cat Videos?
Simon’s Cat are a series of comic strip animated short videos that you can find on YouTube. The videos are primarily without words, and are in black and white. You can watch these videos on your iphone, ipad, laptop or computer to target so many different skills! If you are worried about ads and unwanted images popping up during your lesson, I recommend watching Simon’s Cat videos with safetube. Safetube is free and allows parents and educators to watch videos without the ads. If you don’t have internet at your school site, there is now a Simon’s Cat comic book!! You can get it on amazon HERE. This is an amazon affiliate link.
Why I Love Simon’s Cat Videos For Speech Therapy
These videos are free. Less money to spend on Therapy materials.
There are a ton of videos. Seasonal themed and generic, so I can use them in speech therapy all year long.
Simon’s Cat videos can be adapted across a variety of ages. I have used them with 1st-8th grade. I am pretty sure they would be accepted among the high school ages too.
I like watching them. If I enjoy the resource, therapy always seems to be more exciting because I am excited to talk about the videos.
Simon’s Cat Videos can be used with mixed groups. Sometimes planning for each student in my mixed groups can be hard because I have to find separate activities and then manage the group to stay on task. By having one resource to cover everyone’s goals, on task behavior is higher.
The setting in the video is usually a Simon’s house and the characters are a man and a cat. I know that many of the videos my students have been exposed to the vocabulary, so I don’t have to spend a ton of time around scheme and background knowledge. Some of my students haven’t been certain places, so picking therapy materials that take that into consideration is helpful.
These videos are short! They are only 2-3 minutes in length, so you can get through them in a 30 minute session.
How To Simon’s Cat Videos In Speech Therapy
There are a lot of ways to use Simon’s Cat videos in speech therapy. I will either use the videos the entire session or we will do some work on individual goals for 15 minutes and then do a video as a group lesson for the next 10-15 minutes.
Articulation Speech Therapy Ideas
During the video, you can have the students write down or tell you words they saw or heard with their speech sound. After the video, they can say each word five times or use in a sentence. You can also write a cheat sheet of target words from the video.
The SLP can have the student answer comprehension questions from the video with their target speech sounds.
Summarize the video using the target words from the video with their best speech sounds.
Language Speech Therapy Ideas
Work on narrative comprehension and oral narration using these videos. Jot down some comprehension questions from the video prior to the students arriving to use to discuss the video. Have students work on story telling by adding on details to what would happen next if the video didn’t end. If you need some graphic organizers to help with this, grab this free set from KiwiSpeech HERE or Speech Time Fun’s summarizing graphic organizer HERE.
Teach and show vocabulary with these videos. The SLP can pick target vocabulary words to teach from the video. During the speech therapy session, target antonyms, synonyms, word associations, attributes and adjectives to describe items in the video.
Discuss the main idea of the video and work on making a new video title for the video.
Teach specific grammar concepts such as third person singular, pronouns, plurals, verb tense, and noun-verb agreement.
Social Skills Speech Therapy Ideas
What are they thinking about? Work on teaching that our eyes give people clues about what they are thinking about. Have your students identify what the character’s are thinking based on where their eyes are looking.
identifying emotions and non-verbal body language. Have your students explain how the characters are feeling and what clues they noticed such as eyes widening, smiling face, or body hunched over.
Perspective taking- work on students explaining what people could be feeling or thinking in the video.
Social inferences & predictions is a way for use to figure out what someone may do next, so we can figure out what to say or do in a social situation.
Conversation – have your students watch the video and then have them discuss what they liked/didn’t like about the video.
Thinking/Talking bubble – because these videos are wordless they are perfect for working on what people are thinking and what could be in their talking bubble. Make your own speech and thinking bubble on a dry erase board, or grab a dry erase think bubble from the dollar store or on amazon HERE. (amazon affiliate link provided).
Humor – these videos are very funny and are perfect to discuss why they are funny!
How would you use Simon’s Cat videos in speech therapy? I would love to hear your therapy ideas.
December is the month that I always pull out the Gingerbread Man book. It is a great theme for December because it is holiday neutral, but still has that festive feel. Today, I wanted to show you some ways you can do a Gingerbread Man perspective taking activity. I am going to provide three ways you can implement this idea, so you don’t have the materials, you can do the next best option.
In this gingerbread man perspective taking activity, the focus of the lesson is to work on “thinking about others”. Before the lesson or in a lesson prior to this one, you can start working on the vocabulary terms “thinking about my ideas” versus “thinking about others ideas”. You can talk about situations when you need to think about other people’s ideas.
Setting Up For The Gingerbread Man Perspective Taking Activity
I also brought in different colored frosting and types of decorations for the gingerbread man cookies. For my students working on language skills, they got to work on describing by attributes and answering wh-questions from peers. My social skill students worked on thinking about others, but also had opportunities to work on waiting, requesting, turn taking, initiating, and responding with comments.
When I do this lesson, I usually push into the classroom and bring enough supplies for every student in the class. I did this with my K-2 and 3-5 special day classrooms. We partnered up each student and I have the teacher and instructional aids in the classroom help as I present the lesson. One student will be the creator and the other student is telling their partner what to create. If your students struggle with initiation or knowing the social language to ask, you can make visual conversational scripts to help them access the words during the lesson.
How to Organize & Maximize Social Skill Opportunities During The Lesson
For each step of the lesson, I have the student creating the cookie ask his/her partner a question. We first started with, “what size gingerbread man do you want?”. The partner would answer the question, and then the student would go to the designated cookie decorating station to request the cookie and a plate. Then, the student would come back and ask the partner what colored frosting the student wanted. We waited for each partner group to be finished before moving on to asking a new question. Once the first student decorated the cookie for his/her partner, the roles reverse.
We went through each step of making a cookie for someone else. Some of my friends had to learn how to be flexible when the person did not want the colored frosting or decorations that they wanted. It was a natural moment for us to talk about thinking about others and being flexible. You can also have students ask clarifying questions such as “do you want more frosting?” or “is this where you wanted the button?”
At the end of the lesson when everyone’s cookie was decorated, we also had students show their peers or teachers in the class their cookie. Students described each other’s cookies and we also talked about the steps that were needed to decorate the cookie. Before eating the cookie, the students had to say “thank you” to their partner for decorating their cookie. SO.MUCH.LANGUAGE, right!?
Gingerbread Man Perspective Taking With A Craft
If you don’t feel like baking gingerbread man cookies, you can do this same activity using a paper gingerbread man and creating a craft! Simply, print a blank gingerbread man template on brown construction paper or cardstock, grab art supply decorations (i.e. poms poms, glitter, wiggly eyes, sequences, paper cut out like frosting lines, etc) and glue.
Do the same set up as listed above, just use the craft items to have students make selections.
Gingerbread Man Perspective Taking With Playdoh Mats
Don’t want to make a mess with glue, glitter and scraps of paper? Then, do it Play-Doh style! You can buy Play-Doh for this activity on Amazon (Amazon affiliate link included for your convenience), which is my most favorite and time effective way, LOL, or you can make Play-Doh with this easy recipe HERE. Mommy SLP tip….I make the homemade Play-Doh with my own children as a fun bonding time and then take it to school for my speech therapy sessions. Of course, I make extra so my own children can have fun with homemade Play-Doh too.
Print out a blank gingerbread man template in color and then follow the same lesson plan outlined above, but use Play-Doh instead. You can have them add buttons, eyes, clothes, hair, frosting decoration and more.
Gingerbread Man Perspective Taking With Apps
You can even adapt this perspective taking activity to use with your iPad because there are gingerbread man creation apps. If you are a traveling SLP, or so swamped with paperwork that you don’t have time to prep any of the other versions above, this is for you! Here is one that is free, but it has ads on it.
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