According to Barker, J. (2001), people with autism often have language and attention issues which interfere with their ability to learn from verbal explanations alone. Visual aids, becomes a useful tool to back up verbal explanation.
This is because visual pictures (p.xiii)
- can make abstract verbal concepts more concrete
- remain stable over time while auditory information can be missed as students’ attention fluctuates, and
- provide a more powerful means to engage attention
I first talk about the ‘The Social Skills Picture Book‘ in June last year when I first started out my blog. This book, by Barker, uses a visual strategy to teach social skills.
What are Social Skills Picture Books? (adapted from Barker, 2001, pxvii)
It is a step by step picture book which illustrates to the child various social skills in a sequential way. In the book, Barker also includes right and sometimes wrong ways to act in various situations.
Successful implementation of the skill set
In order to ensure mastery of the skill that we are teaching the child, it is important to note that this book is not a replacement to teaching and learning. Instead, it acts as a prior knowledge tool or an initial visual imagery on the skills we hope the child will learn. As my child gets older and is better able to sit down and read through books, I find this book more useful than ever.
- explain the skill steps using the book
- model for the child
- role-playing the steps with the child
- practice in and outside of the lesson
As usual, I will move on to the next skill set when I have observed that the child is able to express the appropriate skill set on three separate occasions without prompting.
This book provides social stories on three types of skill set:
- Communication related skills
- Play-related skills
- Emotion related skills
Ways to use the book
Similarly, I read through the social story with the child.
To involve the child in lesson, which I see as a confidence booster, get the child to tick and erase the completed segment of the lesson. This method helps to keep them on track and acts as a visual cue for them as well.
Those who have been following my blog knows that C used to be non-verbal. He used to take my hand to point at the things he wants instead of saying it verbally. I’m not sure if it was his speech impediment or age or both, he did not really enjoy reading the social stories with me then.
Three years on, his speech have improved tremendously, and he now possesses more confidence to speak to us and others. Recently, in the past two months or so, he seems to show a greater interest in this book. He would actually request at times to read this book as part of his before sleep/nap reading.
I think this book is without a doubt a gem for parents, teachers or caregivers who are trying to teach their children to speak, interact, and/or react appropriately in various situations. It would have been better if the book/stories were available in B5 hard board card as the book is rather long and flimsy. I did wish there were stories with children with different ethnic backgrounds too. Nonetheless, it is still a great book for educators, parents and caregivers teaching social skills to children with autism and perhaps those with hyperactivity as well.
The links to purchase the book if you are keen:
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