I am very thankful to work with parents who want ideas for things they can work on at home with their child. Especially when it comes to social communication, true learning can’t happen in a small, sterile setting alone. People with social learning difficulties have trouble generalizing concepts, and the more caregivers are on board with applying the lessons we begin, the more successful the student will be. Below are a few of my favorite resources you can use at home to continue your child’s social learning this summer.
I am a big Julia Cook fan. She writes great children’s books on very specific topics. My favorites are the ones about RJ from the Best I Can Be! series, especially Thanks For the Feedback, I Think. While I haven’t come across a book by her that isn’t worth reading, some of the more creative ones, like Soda Pop Head, can be a bit confusing. Sometimes my students will know they don’t want to be a Soda Pop Head, but they don’t understand that the story is about controlling anger. Like I said, they are still good books, you just need to do a little extra work to make sure they are getting the main point of the story.
I also love The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett. Many students with social communication difficulties are riddled by anxiety and want everything to be just right. This story does a great job walking through one girl’s discovery of the joys and freedom of being imperfect.What If Everybody Did That? by Ellen Javernick is a very fun read showing the consequences of just doing what you want. It’s another one that gives you shared language to talk about consequences in a humorous way, but requires careful discussion about how it relates to your child’s behavior for it to be a meaningful lesson.
Finally, if you’re willing and able to spend a little more time and money, We Can Make it Better! Stories by Elizabeth M. Delsandro provide great learning opportunities. This resource includes many stories demonstrating unexpected behaviors in typical social interactions for children. Parents can use the stories to discuss what a character did that was unexpected, how the behavior made another character feel, and what would be a expected behavior in that situation instead.
The book gives more thorough instruction on how to complete the activities, but for busy parents, you can also just print the stories from the CD-ROM (yes, those still exist) and use it for discussion. It will give you shared language for when similar situations arise in real life. In my sessions I often end up drawing up my own stories personalized for the specific students and specific lessons, which takes time, but helps generalize the concepts into real-life.
I hope this gives you some ideas for continuing your child’s social learning throughout the summer. If you find strategies that work, definitely let your child’s teacher know about them in the fall so they can use the same language to keep the lessons going.