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Social Language Development Scenes Adolescent for Group Therapy
Ages: 12-18   Grades: 7-Adult         

This flexible format—an attention-grabbing illustration on the front and a variety of stimuli on the back—targets a wide range of social skills perfect for groups or one-on-one therapy.


  • Make and keep friends
  • Consider other people's perspectives and respond appropriately
  • Accurately interpret idioms and sarcasm
  • Identify and solve problems
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The emphasis is on using real-life, higher-demand social language skills.  You'll stimulate observation, dialogue, discussion, reasoning, flexible thinking, and perspective taking with questions and narratives.  

Activities are based on research from The Social Language Development Test Adolescent and reflect a developmental progression of specific social language skills among 12- to 18-year-olds.  The activities complement those in Social Language Training Adolescent with more demands on social language comprehension, expression, and reasoning.

Skill areas include:

  • Nonverbal Communication—identify and interpret facial expressions, gestures, posture, and proximity
  • Making Inferences—use context, body language, and other clues to make reasonable inferences about what is happening and why
  • Multiple Interpretations—think of more than one logical interpretation for a situation; develop flexibility in thinking
  • Multiple Perspectives—recognize that people in the same situation can think different thoughts and have different opinions
  • Solving Problems—identify social problems, think of solutions, and justify why some solutions are better than others; recognize the feelings of other people and think of solutions that preserve or create friendships
  • Interpreting Idioms & Sarcasm—recognize discrepancy between intended and expressed meanings and reflect on the speaker's beliefs and attitudes
  • Social Interaction—recognize appropriate and inappropriate reactions to people and know what to say and do
  • Interpersonal Negotiation—learn to compromise, problem solve, listen, negotiate, and seek mutually-pleasing resolutions to conflicts
  • Relating Personal Experience—express personal experiences and feelings and realize the value of considering other people's perspectives

Copyright © 2011

50 8½" x 11" double-sided, coated picture/stimuli cards; instructions; vinyl folder
  • It is possible to teach specific social skills to adolescents with autism spectrum disorders and increase their interaction with peers and adults.  Training tasks should include interpreting verbal/nonverbal actions or intentions, understanding social reciprocity, and adjusting verbal/nonverbal behavior according to social cues (Crooke, Hendrix, & Rachman, 2007).
  • Parents and teachers surveyed reported that children with autism showed deficits in initiating, responding to, and maintaining social interactions.  Appropriate peer interactions, usually facilitated in a social language group, can play a vital role in enhancing a child's social and language outcomes (Murray, Ruble, Willis, & Molloy, 2009).

Social Language Development Scenes Adolescent for Group Therapy incorporates these principles and is also based on expert professional practice.


Crooke, P., Hendrix, R., & Rachman, J. (2007). Teaching social thinking to children with ASD: An effectiveness study. Presentation at the ASHA Conference, Boston, MA..

Murray, D.S., Ruble, L.A., Willis, H., & Molloy, C.A. (2009). Parent and teacher report of social skills in children with autism spectrum disorders. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 40(2), 109-115.




Providing stimulating, effective social language therapy in a mixed group setting can be challenging.  Use Social Language Development Scenes Adolescent for Group Therapy to present real-world situations that will engage all students.  These 50 picture scenes illustrate a wide variety of everyday situations that provide tons of opportunities to elicit social language.  The variety of stimulus items on the back of each card reflects the skills assessed in The Social Language Development Test Adolescent and Social Language Training Adolescent:

  • Nonverbal Communication
  • Solving Problems
  • Multiple Perspectives
  • Interpersonal Negotiation
  • Multiple Interpretations
  • Making Inferences
  • Social Interaction
  • Interpreting Idioms & Sarcasm


  • We have not provided answers for any stimulus items due to the variety of possible correct responses and differences in cultural communication.
  • If a question asks the student to take another person's perspective, encourage the student to provide a response in the first person (e.g., "I"), and not in the third person (e.g., "he" or "she").

The scenes present social situations in five ways: one person in a social situation with broad context; one person in two similar situations with subtle differences and limited context; two people in a social context; three people in a social context; and two separate scenes of the same people in the same social context, but with subtle emotional differences.

The scenes and flexible stimulus items can be used in any way to best support your therapy goals, but here is a suggested sequence of presentation:

  • Show the picture scene to the group and ask students to take a moment to consider what is happening in the picture.
  • Present the Nonverbal Communication stimulus items to focus attention on nonverbal clues and emotions present in the scene.
  • Ask students to provide a brief narrative to explain what they think is happening in the picture.
  • Read the suggested story in the What's Going On? box.
  • Present the Dialogue stimulus items to encourage students to give voice to the characters in the scene.
  • Present any of the remaining stimulus items on the card that address your therapy needs.  The final item in the gray box will challenge students to connect a past experience with an aspect of the targeted social situation.

After students have completed relevant stimulus items, you might encourage them to role-play the situation as it is presented or extend it to what they think might happen next.  However you choose to use Social Language Development Scenes Adolescent for Group Therapy, we hope you'll find these situations and stimulus items important tools to continue enriching the social language skills of your students.