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Autism Conference Social Competencies. Bucks County Schools Intermediate Unit #22 October 16, 2010 Emily Slabek, and Holly Sleppy. Objective.

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autism conference social competencies

Autism ConferenceSocial Competencies

Bucks County Schools

Intermediate Unit #22

October 16, 2010

Emily Slabek, and Holly Sleppy


Given a definition of social skills, participants will be able to identify basic social expectations for successful learners by understanding potential miscommunication through unwritten social skills.

define social skills
Define social skills
  • How do you define social skills?
  • How does our society define social skills?
game plan
Game Plan
  • Define social skills
  • Meet “the class”
  • Basic social expectations
  • Beyond the basics
  • Where is “the class” now?
  • Generalization
  • Discussion

Emily is a full-time autistic support teacher with years of professional and personal experience in teaching social skills. She is an expert on her students.

Holly is the mom of Evan, who has Asperger’s syndrome, or high-functioning autism. She is an Evan expert.

  • Our goal is that each participant is able to take something out of our presentation to better the life of at least one child.
the class

Knowledge in specific areas of interest

A few on grade level in academics

Involved in community activities

Expressive and receptive language

Desire to “fit in”


Understanding social skills

Understanding emotions

1-3 years behind grade level in academics

Behavior struggles- meltdowns, outbursts, non-compliance, disruptive

Understanding how to “fit in”

Inability to read body language

“The Class”

Very bright with advanced reading (decoding), vocabulary and memory skills

Desire to fit in, but with a few preferred friends

Polite, with good use of manners


Understanding social skills and maintaining 2-way conversation

Difficulty with expressing emotions properly

Difficulty with personal space of others

Interpreting others’ behaviors very literally

Transitioning from activity to activity

Unusual sensitivity to textures, tastes, sounds and smells that brought on emotional MELTDOWNS


“Children with Autism often lack a social sense and demonstrate limited, but intense emotions. This, coupled with their language impairments, adversely affects their success in social interactions and may lead to withdrawal, aggression, depression, and/or anxiety. As a result, they need constant coaching and facilitation during all types of social interactions…” Susan Thompson Moore

Friendship Theory

social expectations
Expected and unexpected

Perspective taking/ Thinking of others

On topic and off topic

Hygienic topics

Basic manners

Whole body listening

“Keep in your head” thoughts

Personal space


Social Expectations
expected and unexpected
Expected for school

Using an inside voice

Raise your hand

Follow directions

Walking in the halls

Using nice words

Unexpected for school


Calling out

Not following directions

Running in the halls

Using mean words

Expected and unexpected

Strategies for teaching: Lesson, Literature, Social stories, Role play

perspective taking thinking of others
Perspective taking/Thinking of others

We exist in a world with other people, it is crucial

that we teach our students the significance of others in addition to the feelings that others have because of things that we do or say.

on topic and off topic
On topic and off topic
  • Strategies for teaching on topic responses:
    • Conversation webs
    • Use teachable moments
    • Model on topic responses
    • Social stories
    • Practice how conversations might go
  • Strategies for teaching appropriate hygiene:
    • Social stories
    • Visual cues
    • Model
    • Literature
basic manners
Saying “Hi” to someone when you pass them


Thank you

You’re welcome

No thank you

Excuse me

Basic Manners
whole body listening you listen with your
Whole body listeningYou listen with your…

1. Shoulders and feet by turning toward the person who is talking.

2. Chest by keeping it up and pointed toward the person who is talking.

3. Hands by not distracting other people or yourself-keep hands quiet.

4. Ears by hearing what other people are saying.

5. Brain by thinking about what other people are saying.

6. Eyes by looking at people’s faces and eyes when they are talking to you.

7. Mouth by only making comments or asking questions about what the person is talking about-don’t interrupt.

Michelle Garcia Winner, Thinking About You Thinking About Me. 2007

keep in your head thoughts
Keep in your head thoughts
  • “You talk too slow.”
  • “Wow, you smell gross.”
  • “You are boring me.”
  • “Is it time to go home yet?”
  • “Why do you have a pimple on your face?”

Strategies: Social stories, Direct instruction, Literature, Role play

personal space
Personal Space Camp by Julia Cook

Strategies: Visual cues, Social stories, Role play, Direct instruction lesson, Line up space markers

Personal Space

Strategies: Weekly flexible challenge (flexible strips), provide opportunities, role play, social stories

beyond the basics hidden rules unwritten rules the grey area
Beyond the BasicsHidden Rules…Unwritten Rules…The Grey Area
  • Hidden rules- the set of unwritten rules that nobody learns but that everyone knows
    • Facial expression and body language
    • Idioms and figures of speech
    • Transformation of the basics
    • What other hidden rules do we have?
where are they now
Where are they now?
  • Accessing a greater amount of general education curriculum
  • Take pride in their friendships
  • Greater ability to problem solve during social situations
  • Consistently use language for social thinking
  • Participation in extracurricular and community activities
  • Improved basic conversation skills
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Improved ability to self-monitor
  • Working hard at being social problem solvers
A child’s skills and

needs will continue

to evolve…what can

we do?


“One size does not fit all; one method

is not appropriate for all. Successful

programs are those that appreciate

the individual nature of each

student.” -Michelle Garcia Winner

effective strategies
Effective strategies
  • Show your flexibility
  • Use teachable moments
  • Be resourceful
  • Communication
  • Be prepared
  • Practice patience
  • Collaborate
  • Asperger Syndrome and the Elementary School Experience, 2002. Susan Thompson Moore
  • The Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships: Decoding Social Mysteries Through the Unique Perspectives of Autism, 2005. Dr. Temple Grandin and Sean Barron
  • Thinking About You, Thinking About Me, 2007. Michelle Garcia Winner
  • Understanding Autism for Dummies, 2006. Stephen M. Shore and Linda G. Rastelli