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Social Language Training Elementary
Ages: 6-11   Grades: 1-6

Here is a developmental, evidence-based program for social language skills. This program is based on the results of the Social Language Development Test Elementary, research, and practical experience.

Outcomes

  • Recognize, understand, and successfully deal with positive and negative social situations
  • Consider and respond to other people's perspectives
  • Get along with others
  • Make and keep friends
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*The CD contains the complete book.  All pages are printable.
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Students learn to recognize, understand, and successfully deal with positive and negative social situations.  Units of the book are arranged in order of general skill complexity and development.  Specific skills addressed include:

Interpretation of facial expressions, gestures, and nonverbal language

  • compare and contrast facial expressions
  • interpret facial expressions and gestures appropriately  
  • understand the vocabulary for describing and interpreting emotions

Making inferences   

  • pay attention to relevant details and ignore irrelevant ones
  • use context, body language, and other clues to make reasonable inferences

Problem solving

  • identify problems
  • predict the consequences and choose the best solution
  • evaluate the results

Multiple interpretations 

  • observe details
  • differentiate important from unimportant details
  • use logic

Friendship  

  • think about how others might feel
  • understand how friends act toward each other 
  • handle difficult social situations appropriately
  • support friends and preserve friendships

Respecting others 

  • how to show respect to peers, siblings, and adults

Interpersonal negotiation

  • identify the qualities of a good friend 
  • disagree tactfully
  • seek mutual resolutions to problems;
  • use persuasion effectively

Reading between the lines

  • interpret nonverbal communcation, sarcasm, and tone of voice
  • the use of vague communication

Students focus on specific social language skills while using the activity sheets for discussion; sharing related personal experiences; and scripting, if necessary.  Scene illustrations segue into role-playing.  The need for writing is minimal.

 

Copyright © 2009

Components
184 pages, answer key
  • Children with limited language skills experience a poor quality of social interactions (Cohen, Menna, Vallance, Barwick, Im, & Horodezky, 1998; Craig, 1993; Fujiki, Brinton, Robinson, & Watson, 1997; Hadley & Rice, 1991).  Such children have greater deficits in social cognitive processing than children with typically developing language.  They have particular deficits in identifying the feelings of each participant in a conflict, identifying and evaluating strategies to overcome obstacles, and knowing when a conflict is resolved (Cohen et al., 1998).
  • The social growth and acceptance of children with specific language impairment (SLI) may depend on intervention designed to help them express their own perspectives effectively and, at the same time, recognize the perspectives of others (Brinton, Fujiki, & McKee, 1998).
  • Social cognitive intervention can improve the social functioning of students with Asperger's or high-functioning autism.  Training tasks can include interpreting verbal/nonverbal actions or intentions, understanding social reciprocity, and adjusting verbal/nonverbal behavior according to social cues (Crooke, Hendrix, & Rachman, 2007).
  • Visual supports successfully increase social communication and generalization to new activities in individuals with ASD (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2006).
  • Explicitly teaching and reinforcing inference-making leads to better outcomes in overall text comprehension, text engagement, and metacognitive thinking.  Students should cite the evidence they used to draw conclusions in order to make the implicit process of making inferences more explicit (McMackin & Lawrence, 2001).
  • Teaching students to make inferences teaches them how to seek meaning in what they read and how to make meaning in their lives (Calkins, 2001).

Social Language Training Elementary incorporates these principles and is also based on expert professional practice.

Resources

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). (2006). Guidelines for speech-language pathologists in diagnosis, assessment, and treatment of autism spectrum disorders across the life span. Available from www.asha.org/policy

Brinton, B., Fujiki, M., & McKee, L. (1998). Negotiation skills of children with specific language impairment. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 41, 927-940.

Calkins, L. (2001). The art of teaching reading. New York: Addison- Wesley Publications.

Cohen, N.J., Menna, R., Vallance, D.D., Barwick, M.A., Im, N., & Horodezky, N.B. (1998). Language, social cognitive processing, and behavioral characteristics of psychiatrically disturbed children with previously identified and unsuspected language impairments. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 39, 853-864.

Craig, H. (1993). Social skills of children with specific language impairment: Peer relationships. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 24, 206-215.

Crooke, P.J., Hendrix, R.E., & Rachman, J.Y. (2007). Teaching social thinking to children with ASD: An effectiveness study. Presentation at the ASHA Convention, November, 2007.

Fujiki, M., Brinton, B., Robinson, L.A., & Watson, V. (1997). The ability of children with specific language impairment to participate in a group decision task. Journal of Childhood Communication Development, 18, 1-10.

Hadley, P.A., & Rice, M.L. (1991). Conversational responsiveness in speech and language-impaired preschoolers. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 34, 1308-1317.

McMackin, M.C. & Lawrence, S. (2001). Investigating inferences: Constructing meaning from expository texts. Reading Horizons, 42, 117-137.

Author(s)

Linda Bowers, Carolyn LoGiudice

Biography

Linda Bowers, M.A., SLP, is a co-founder and co-owner of LinguiSystems.  She is a speech-language pathologist with wide experience serving language-disordered students of all ages.  Linda has a keen professional interest in the critical thinking and language abilities of children and adults.

Carolyn LoGiudice, M.A., CCC-SLP, wrote and edited products and tests for LinguiSystems for 25 years, incorporating her previous experience as an SLP in school and clinic settings.  She is now retired and savoring time with her family, friends, and hobbies.

Linda and Carolyn, along with Rosemary Huisingh, are co-authors of several tests, therapy kits, and games for LinguiSystems, including The Social Language Development Test Elementary.

Introduction

Unlike academic skills acquired via direct instruction in school, social skills develop as children observe and interact with others over time.  This personal experience as well as brain maturation are essential to develop effective social interaction skills.  Facility with language and nonverbal communication are also critical for getting along well with others.

Some children, for various reasons, are delayed or atypical in developing social skills.  Weak or immature social skills compared to peers can make children the butt of teasing or, worse, completely ignored by their peers.  We need to help such children "get the picture" of what's going on and teach them to get along better.  The trick is having a frame of reference for which skills to teach and in what order.

We developed and standardized the Social Language Development Test Elementary (Bowers, Huisingh, & LoGiudice, 2008) to examine the developmental progression of specific social language skills among students aged 6 through 11.  Based on the results of this test as well as research and years of practical experience, we developed Social Language Training Elementary to provide therapy materials that help instructors focus students' attention on specific social skills.  Although these specific skills overlap each other in real life and even among the units of this book, drawing attention to the skills independently brings new awareness to students who otherwise might not "get it."

We arranged the units of this book in order of general skill complexity and development.  If a student has difficulty with a higher-level skill, present earlier units to make sure the student has mastered them.

The outcome of social skills training based on this book will be that students will behave in ways that promote positive, effective interactions with others.  The indicators for this outcome will be that students:

  • identify, label, and describe facial expressions that show specific emotions
  • recognize, interpret, and use gestures and nonverbal language appropriately
  • perceive and explain other people's perspectives
  • make appropriate inferences based on visual and/or context clues
  • make multiple, logical interpretations of a given scenario
  • identify and solve problems
  • make and keep friends
  • respect others
  • negotiate conflicts, seeking mutually pleasing resolutions
  • support others, even when that means bending the truth to be kind
  • read between the lines to differentiate the true meaning of a spoken comment vs. the surface meaning of only the words

The activity sheets in this book are intended as fodder for stimulating discussion, modeling as necessary, and sharing related personal experience.  The need for writing is minimal; all written activities may be done orally.  In some cases, you may want to work through an activity sheet along with your students and then have them complete the sheets independently for reinforcement.

An answer key is provided for your reference.  Please note that the answers listed are simply examples; accept other logical answers as correct.

Depending on your students' skill levels, use the scene illustrations within this book or from other sources as the basis for role-playing.  Work with your students to create a logical script for them to enact.

The more you talk with your students about people's expressions, thoughts, intentions, and problem-solving, the more they will recognize the value of considering other people's perspectives.  That knowledge should yield increased empathy and respect for others.  It should also help your students consider the consequences of their actions in terms of other people's opinions as well as their own.

We hope you and your students enjoy this resource as much as we enjoyed putting it together!

Linda and Carolyn