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Autism & PDD Adolescent Social Skills Lessons Managing Behavior
Ages: 12-18   Grades: 7-Adult

These one-page, picture-supported social lessons help teens understand and express feelings and deal with aggression and other special problems.


  • Learn to manage behavior and stay calm 
  • Use social scripts to successfully integrate into regular classrooms
  • Make appropriate choices and reduce behavioral problems
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The book has 40 ready-to-use lessons.  Customize the lessons by adding student-specific information, editing the text, and using a  photograph in place of the generic picture in the book.  Each sentence in the lesson is supported by one or more pictures. 

There are instructional and behavioral lessons.  The instructional lessons are intended to teach adolescents what they need to do or say in social situations that are sometimes overwhelming (e.g., Feeling Angry).  Use these instructional lessons as part of a social skills curriculum with small groups.  The behavioral lessons target specific social problems that need to be stopped (e.g., Running Away). Use these lessons with an individual.  You choose the order in which to present the lessons.  Then, document progress with the Record of Progress and tracking forms.

The lessons are organized by these topics:

  • Feelings—Feeling Disappointed, Feeling Upset, and more
  • Special Problems—Making Others Repeat, Throwing Food, Hands in Pants, Making Noises, and more
  • Aggression—Pinching, Choking, Biting Self, Pulling Hair, and more

Extra helps include:

  • anger choice sheet
  • picture index
  • behavior tracking forms and examples
  • behavior analysis forms and examples
  • progress recording forms and examples
  • tracking forms for lessons

You may purchase Autism & PDD Adolescent Social Skills Lessons Managing Behavior individually or in a 5-book set.

The 5-book set consists of:

Autism & PDD Adolescent Social Skills Lessons Health & Hygiene
Autism & PDD Adolescent Social Skills Lessons Interacting
Autism & PDD Adolescent Social Skills Lessons Managing Behavior
Autism & PDD Adolescent Social Skills Lessons Secondary Schools
Autism & PDD Adolescent Social Skills Lessons Vocational

Copyright © 2001

64 pages, progress record, tracking forms
  • Children with autism need approaches that focus on social functioning.  These approaches should be introduced as ongoing intervention strategies from early years to adulthood (Taylor-Goh, 2005).
  • Many children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) learn more readily through the visual modality (Taylor-Goh, 2005).
  • Visual supports enhance language comprehension for individuals on the autism spectrum, bridging communication between the individuals and the social expectations of the world around them (Hodgdon, 1995).
  • Stories about specific social situations help students with ASD understand and respond to similar social situations appropriately (Kuoch & Mirenda, 2003).

Autism & PDD Adolescent Social Skills Lessons Managing Behavior incorporates these principles and is also based on expert professional practice.


Hodgdon, L. (1995). Visual strategies for improving communication. Troy, MI: QuirkRoberts Publishing.

Kuoch, H., & Mirenda, P. (2003). Social story interventions for young children with autism spectrum disorders. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 18, 219-227.

Taylor-Goh, S. (2005). Royal college of speech & language therapists: Clinical guidelines. United Kingdom: Speechmark.


Pam Britton Reese, Nena C. Challenner


Pam Britton Reese, M.A., CCC-SLP, owns a private practice, CommunicAid Plus, where she provides speech and language services to children and adults.  She is also an educational consultant to public and private schools.  Pam has over nine years experience in the schools as a speech-language pathologist and teacher of the hearing-impaired.  She has worked with children with autism and PDD since 1995.  Autism & PDD Adolescent Social Skills Lessons is her third publication with LinguiSystems.


Nena C. Challenner, B.S., is a community-based instruction teacher and inclusion specialist.  She has been a teacher for over 15 years and has taught preschool through second grade.  She has worked with children with autism and PDD since 1995.  Autism & PDD Adolescent Social Skills Lessons is her second publication with LinguiSystems.


A few years ago, we were working together to facilitate the inclusion of several children with autism in elementary classrooms.  Behavior problems often occurred due to breakdowns in communication.  Although the classrooms had been structured to aid inclusion, inappropriate behaviors repeatedly interrupted both social and academic learning.  Typical behaviors included climbing on desktops, darting, squirting glue on tables, screaming, and tantruming at breaks in routines.

We learned of Carol Gray's success with stories describing social situations to teach children with autism (The New Social Story Book, 1994).  Based on those, we began writing shorter, one-page lessons with each sentence supported by one or more pictures.  Our lessons targeted typical needs of preschool and early primary students.

As parents began to see how the lessons worked at school, they requested lessons concerning behaviors at home and in the community.  In addition, the lessons were used successfully with children with other disabilities and with typically-developing children.  Autism & PDD Social Skills Lessons (1999) was the culmination of the work we did with teachers and families of these students.

Our first set of books was well received by parents and professionals.  However, it quickly became evident that there was a strong need for lessons for adolescents with autism.  As all children enter adolescence, including adolescents with autism, the social world becomes increasingly complex and confusing.  Adolescents are changing in ways they may not understand.  Many teachers and parents shared difficult social situations and challenges faced by the adolescents they know.  We adapted those situations and created Autism & PDD Adolescent Social Skills Lessons.  This set of books provides a road map for the adolescent to use to navigate the social world.


About the Books
The lessons are grouped into five separate books:

  • Health & Hygiene
  • Interacting
  • Managing Behavior
  • Secondary Schools
  • Vocational

In each book, we have included instructional and behavioral lessons.  The instructional lessons are intended to teach adolescents what they need to do or say in social situations that are sometimes overwhelming (e.g., Feeling Angry).  The instructional lessons can be used as part of a social skills curriculum with small groups.  The behavioral lessons target specific social problems that need to be stopped.  They are best used with an individual (e.g., Running Away).

The lessons are not intended to be used in the order presented, but chosen according to the needs of a particular individual.

This book has two types of lessons.  The lessons about feelings can be used to instruct at any time.  The lessons about behavior should not be used unless they address an existing problem.  When overwhelmed with frustration or sensory stimulation, students with autism sometimes exhibit aggressive behavior.  Immediate intervention by a teacher, parent, or caregiver is necessary when safety is the issue.  The behavior lessons should be used after the student has calmed down, NOT while a dangerous behavior is occurring.  The Anger Choice Sheet can also be used as an instructional tool to choose responses to anger and frustration that are more appropriate. 


Modifying the Lessons
No two people are the same!  Although the lessons are ready for use as they appear in the books, it will undoubtedly be necessary to make changes in some lessons to fit the adolescent.  For example:

  • Use a photograph of the adolescent in place of the generic teen in the books.
  • Edit text if necessary to make the lesson fit the individual situation.
  • Fill in the blanks provided to individualize the lesson.
  • Use pictures from the picture index at the back of each book, photographs, line drawings, or computer-generated art to modify lessons as needed.


Using the Lessons
Identify the skill to be taught.  No student will need every lesson.  Search for the source of the problem.  Is it sensory?  Is it a communication breakdown?  Is the adolescent sick?  Some problems can be solved by ignoring the behavior or changing something in the environment.  Limit the number of lessons presented at one time.  Start with one or two.  Wait until they are learned before introducing more lessons.

Choose the appropriate lesson and change the story as needed.  Make two copies.  Place one copy of the lesson in a notebook for the student.  As skills are presented and learned, the notebook can be used for reviewing lessons and for sharing the lessons with other teachers, parents, and caregivers.

The second copy is to be used for direct instruction as follows:

  1. Identify the time and place the social situation occurs.  The Tracking Multiple Behaviors form and/or the Initial Behavior Analysis form will help you.
  2. When teaching a new skill, the social lesson should immediately precede the targeted situation.  For example, before the adolescent goes to bed, read Waking Up at Night.
  3. Present the lesson.  Sit with the student one-on-one in a quiet area and read the lesson aloud.  Point to the pictures for emphasis.  Read the lesson again.  (You might also want to copy the lesson onto a chart for group instruction at a later time.)
  4. Allow adequate processing time.  Pause after reading each line.  Wait and observe the student's reaction before proceeding.  A common error is reading through the lesson too quickly.
  5. Give the student his/her copy of the lesson.  Keeping a notebook of lessons presented allows the student to review each lesson repeatedly and to refer to it when needed.

Document the lesson(s) taught using the Record of Progress and/or the tracking forms.  These records can serve as documentation for IEP objectives and behavioral intervention.


Special Considerations
Pronouns can be difficult for some people with autism.  We have used "I" extensively throughout the books as a way to help teach the pronoun.  If pronoun use prevents comprehension of the lesson, substitute names in the text and/or use the photographs in place of the "I" symbol.

Be sure to use words that the student is familiar with (e.g., gym vs. P.E.).

The lesson and pictures on one page may be overwhelming for some students.  You can use a blank sheet of paper to mask the rest of the lesson as you read each line.  The lessons can also be used to make a small book.  Cut the lesson into sentence strips.  Place each sentence with its accompanying pictures in the center of a sheet of paper.  Staple the pages together to make a book.

These lessons can be easily adapted to a student's language and comprehension level.  If necessary, delete words to shorten sentences.  Some students may also need fewer pictures per sentence.

We hope that you will find these social skills lessons as effective as we have.

Pam and Nena