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Spotlight on Social Skills Elementary Making Social Inferences
Ages: 6-10   Grades: 1-5

Students learn to make logical inferences about social relationships and social situations using teaching methods especially suited for those with autism spectrum disorders and language-learning disabilities.   

Outcomes

  • Develop age-appropriate social language and interaction skills
  • Improve self-esteem and learn to make friends
  • Interact successfully in the classroom
  • Understand peers' perspectives
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#31853
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The activity pages consist of interesting graphic organizers, photos, and art supported with specific, clear directions. Students discuss the clues that lead to logical inferences, making social expectations and behaviors more explicit for better understanding the abstract dynamics of social relationships.  Targeted skills include:  

  • understand what an inference is and how to make an inference
  • make logical inferences about pictured everyday contexts 
  • infer typical social responses/manners
  • infer relationships and emotions from pictured situations
  • infer causes and effects in social situations
  • understand social hints that are indirect requests 

These learning strategies are used to help students  make accurate inferences and respond appropriately:  

  • modeling
  • observation
  • direct instruction
  • discussion
  • role-playing
  • other guided practice

Extra helps include:

  • pretest/posttest
  • making inferences checklist
  • answer key

You may purchase Making Social Inferences individually or as a 6-book set.  The 6-book set consists of:

Spotlight on Social Skills Elementary Conversations
Spotlight on Social Skills Elementary Emotions
Spotlight on Social Skills Elementary Making Friends
Spotlight on Social Skills Elementary Making Social Inferences
Spotlight on Social Skills Elementary Nonverbal Language
Spotlight on Social Skills Elementary Predicting Consequences

 

Copyright © 2009

Components
40 pages, pretest/posttest, skills checklist, answer key
  • Children with language difficulties, particularly those with pragmatic impairments, need specific teaching to help social understanding (Taylor-Goh, 2005).
  • Research has established the reciprocal relationship between language skill and social acceptability among peers (Gallagher, 1993).
  • The abilities to adjust messages to listeners' needs, initiate conversation successfully, ask appropriate questions, contribute well to ongoing conversations, communicate intentions clearly, address everyone when joining a group, and make more positive than negative comments are related to peer acceptance and sociometric status (Putallaz & Gottman, 1981; Rubin, LeMare, & Lollis, 1990; Gallagher, 1993).
  • Conversation partners require skills in both verbal and nonverbal interactive behaviors (Sillars, 1991).
  • Social skills intervention can improve children's social cognitive skills (Timler, Olswang, & Coggins, 2005).
  • Targeted language intervention with at-risk students may result in more cautionary, socially acceptable behaviors (Moore-Brown, Sanger, Montgomery, & Nishida, 2002).
  • Only 7% of the information we communicate to others depends upon the words we say; 93% depends on nonverbal communication (Mehrabian, 1971).
  • Students with language disorders often perform much like younger, typically-developing students on measures of pragmatic development (Lapadat, 1991).
  • Social and emotional development lay the foundation for later success in school, work, and life.  Addressing students' social and emotional needs also increases their capacity to learn (Franklin, 2008).
  • Language facility is a key component of social competence (Gallagher, 1991; Guralnick, 1992).

Spotlight on Social Skills Elementary Making Social Inferences incorporates these principles and is also based on expert professional practice.

References

Franklin, J. (2008, January 29). Social and emotional learning: Educating the whole child. Southern Illinoisan. Retrieved February 7, 2008, from http://www.thesouthern.com/articles/208/01/28/lifestyles/mind_and_body/23106916.txt 

Gallagher, T. (1991). Language and social skills: Implications for clinical assessment and intervention with school-age children. In T. Gallagher (Ed.), Pragmatics of language: Clinical practice issues. San Diego, CA: Singular Publishing Group.

Gallagher, T. (1993). Language skill and the development of social competence in school-age children. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 24, 199-205.

Guralnick, M. (1992). A hierarchical model for understanding children's peer-related social competence. In S. Odom, S. McConnell, & M. McEvoy (Eds.), Social competence of young children with disabilities. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.

Lapadat, J.D. (1991). Pragmatic language skills of students with language and/or learning disabilities: A quantitative synthesis. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 24, 147-158.

Mehrabian, A. (1971). Silent messages. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Moore-Brown, B., Sanger, D., Montgomery, J., & Nishida, B. (2002, April 30). Communication and violence: New roles for speech-language pathologists. The ASHA Leader, 7, 4-14.

Putallaz, M., & Gottman, J. (1981). An interactional model of children's entry into peer groups. Child Development, 52,
989-994.

Rubin, K., LeMare, L., & Lollis, S. (1990). Social withdrawal in childhood: Developmental pathways to peer rejection. In S. Asher & J. Coie (Eds.), Peer rejection in childhood. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.

Sillars, A.L. (1991). Behavior observation. In B.M. Montgomery & S. Duck (Eds.), Studying interpersonal interaction. New York: Guilford Press.

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

Timler, G., Olswang, L., & Coggins, T. (2005). "Do I know what I need to do?" Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 36, 73-85.

Author(s)

Carolyn LoGiudice, Paul F. Johnson

Biography

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.

Paul F. Johnson, B.A., is a writer and editor at LinguiSystems.  He has a special interest in developing thinking and communication skills in students of all ages.  He also enjoys music, cooking, gardening, traveling, and spending time with his family.

Carolyn and Paul have collaborated to develop several publications, including Story Comprehension To Go, No-Glamour Sequencing Cards, and Spotlight on Reading & Listening Comprehension.

Introduction

Age-appropriate social skills are essential for students to get along well with their peers and to foster strong self-esteem.  Social skills are rarely taught directly as a school subject, and most students gradually master social skills without formal instruction.  Those who fail to infer expectations and "rules" from personal interactions with others are at risk for being criticized by their peers or, worse, ignored.  Students on the autism spectrum are particularly at risk for poor social skills due to the nature of the disorder; many students with language and/or learning disabilities are also at risk.

The activities in Spotlight on Social Skills Elementary highlight specific aspects of social skills and include strategies of direct instruction, modeling, observation, discussion, role-playing, and other guided practice in contexts of everyday interaction.  These activities can be presented to individual students or small groups of students.  Small groups are preferred because they expose students to their peers' perspectives and offer a safe setting for practicing social skills.

For an overview of a student's social skills functioning, administer the Social Language Development Test Elementary (Bowers, Huisingh, & LoGiudice, 2008).  Use the pretest/posttest to check the student's awareness and functioning in the appropriate area addressed by one of the six books in Spotlight on Social Skills Elementary:

  • Conversations
  • Emotions       
  • Making Friends
  • Making Social Inferences
  • Nonverbal Language                  
  • Predicting Consequences

These are the student objectives for the activities in this book:

  • understand what an inference is
  • understand how to make an inference
  • make logical inferences about pictured/described, everyday contexts
  • make inferences to predict what will happen next
  • infer typical social responses to common situations (manners)
  • infer situation settings from context clues
  • infer people's relationships and emotions from pictured situations
  • infer causes and effects in social situations
  • understand social hints that are polite commands (indirect requests)
  • justify inferences based on contextual clues

The activities in this book focus on making logical inferences about social relationships and situations.  The activity sheets offer many opportunities to explain and discuss the clues that lead to logical inferences, making social expectations and behaviors explicit for those who do not abstract the dynamics of social relationships without direct explanations and examples.

In addition to the pretest/posttest, use the making inferences checklist to document baseline skills as well as improved performance during the instruction period.  You can also gather helpful information by asking students' teachers and parents to complete this checklist.

Here are some other tips to help you improve students' skills in making inferences:

  • Teach your students to look for "free clues" to understand what is going on in a situation.  "Free clues" are things you can observe directly without any additional information, such as what a person's posture or facial expression tells you.  Repeatedly noting and talking about such clues helps students realize the wealth of information available to grasp what is happening, how someone feels and why, and what someone is likely to do next.*
  • When a student tells you what happened in a social situation, help him to state the situation clearly and ask him questions that will spotlight salient clues that led to the student's inferences, such as "How do you know?" or "What did you see that told you how the person felt?"
  • Teach your students to ask themselves pertinent questions to figure out what's going on or how someone feels in a situation, such as these:
      • "Does the person look happy/worried/scared?" 
      • "What is the person thinking right now?  Why?"
      • "What will the person do next?  Why?"
      • "What has happened like this before?  How is this situation the same/different?"
      • "If there's a problem, what would solve the problem?"
  • When a student has made an inference about a current social situation, revisit that situation later to help the student confirm or adjust her inferences about what was going on and why.
  • Some students have trouble detecting and interpreting the nonverbal clues that display emotions and intentions.  Use The Nonverbal Language Kit by LoGiudice and Warner (LinguiSystems, 2003) for additional training in nonverbal language.
  • For basic practice in making inferences beyond just social situations, use No-Glamour Inferences by Kanefsky (LinguiSystems, 2008).

We hope you and your students enjoy Spotlight on Social Skills Elementary Making Social Inferences!

Carolyn and Paul

*We are indebted to Lonnie Legler, CCC/SLP, an autism specialist in the school district of Santa Clarita, CA, for her suggestion of teaching students to search actively for free information in order to form inferences in social situations.