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Autism & PDD Intermediate Social Skills Lessons Controlling Behavior
Ages: 8-12   Grades: 3-7

These one-page, picture-supported social scripts help preteens 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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** This is a Cloud E-Book that is accessible from any device with Internet access. .

The book has 40 ready-to-use lessons (stories).  Customize the lessons by adding student-specific information, editing the text, and using a photograph in place of the generic picture in the book.  The concise format makes it easy to keep a copy of the lesson where the social behavior occurs.  Each sentence in the story is supported by one or more pictures. 

There are instructional and behavioral lessons.  The instructional lessons teach preteens what to say or do in social situations that are sometimes overwhelming.  The behavioral lessons target specific social problems that need to be stopped.  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:

  • Expressing Feelings—Expressing Anxiety, Expressing Frustration, Expressing Sadness, and more
  • Special Problems—Inappropriate Laughing, Hands in Pants, Touching Others, Keeping Clothes On, and more
  • Aggressive Behaviors—Spitting, Cursing, Throwing Things, Pulling Hair, Biting Self, 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
  • teaching suggestions

You may purchase Controlling Behavior individually or in a 5-book set

The 5-book set consists of:

Autism & PDD Intermediate Social Skills Lessons Communication
Autism & PDD Intermediate Social Skills Lessons Controlling Behavior
Autism & PDD Intermediate Social Skills Lessons Healthy Habits
Autism & PDD Intermediate Social Skills Lessons Middle School
Autism & PDD Intermediate Social Skills Lessons Special Events & Activities 


Copyright © 2002

63 pages, progress record, tracking forms
  • Many children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) learn more readily through the visual modality (Taylor-Goh, 2005).
  • Children with ASD need approaches that focus on social functioning.  These approaches should be introduced as ongoing intervention strategies from early years to adulthood (Taylor-Goh, 2005).
  • Stories about specific social situations help students with ASD understand and respond to similar social situations appropriately (Kuoch & Mirenda, 2003).
  • Treatment must be tailored to the child's individual behavior and needs (ASHA, 2006).
  • Children with ASD can decrease a challenging behavior when the social story is modified to meet their personal needs and teachers and staff members consistently expose children to this form of learning (Crozier & Tincani, 2005).

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


American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). (2006). Principles for speech-language pathologists in diagnosis, assessment, and treatment of autism spectrum disorders across the life span [Technical Report]. Retrieved January 19, 2010, from

Crozier, S., & Tincani, M.J. (2005). Using a modified social story to decrease disruptive behavior of a child with autism. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 20(3), 150-157.

Kuoch, J., & 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 in Texas.  Autism & PDD Intermediate Social Skills Lessons is her fifth publication with LinguiSystems.

Nena C. Challenner, M.Ed., is an assistant principal at Longbranch Elementary School in Midlothian, Texas.  She has over 20 years of experience in general and special education.  Autism & PDD Intermediate Social Skills Lessons is her fourth 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 having tantrums 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 Primary Social Skills Lessons (1999) was the culmination of the work we did with teachers and families of these students.  This set of social skills lessons was followed by a set written for the needs of adolescents (Autism & PDD Adolescent Social Skills Lessons, 2001).

We then began to hear over and over from parents and professionals we met at schools and conferences that we were leaving out a very important group of children: preteens.  In an effort to target the needs of this age group, we used the Internet to solicit problems and specific social topics experienced by parents and professionals that needed to be taught to this age group.  We had a tremendous response and many of the social skills lessons in these books are a result of those responses.


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

  • Communication
  • Controlling Behavior
  • Healthy Habits
  • Middle School
  • Special Events & Activities

In each book, we have included instructional and behavioral lessons.  The instructional lessons are intended to teach preteens what they need to say or do in social situations that are sometimes overwhelming (e.g., Expressing Sadness).  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 (e.g., Making Others Repeat).

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 in Controlling Behavior about expressing feelings can be used to instruct at any time.  The lessons about inappropriate 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 teach appropriate responses to anger and frustration.


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 each preteen.  For example:

  • Use a photograph of the preteen in place of the generic preteen 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 preteen 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, use the notebook for reviewing lessons and for sharing the lessons with other teachers, parents, and caregivers.

Use the second copy 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 you teach a new skill, the social lesson should immediately precede the targeted situation.  For example, before the preteen enters the bathroom, read Leaving the Bathroom Naked.
  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. A common error is reading through the lesson too quickly.  Allow adequate processing time.  Pause after reading each line.  Wait and observe the student's reaction before proceeding.
  5. Give the student a 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 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