Think about the different ways that you recognize the emotions of others in your daily life. Do you focus on their facial expression? Their body language? Or their tone of voice? While some of us may do these things in our daily lives without thinking twice, for children with autism it is often difficult to communicate their emotions and recognize the emotions of others. Parents and educators often find that their children or students with autism display inappropriate behaviors due to their difficulty recognizing and communicating their emotions. For example, children may have tantrums that seem easily triggered, they may become aggressive, or may become withdrawn. Although difficulty communicating and understanding emotions is not a universal challenge in those who have autism, it is very common. Therefore, parents and educators should become familiar with the different ways to help children communicate and recognize emotions.
Linda Hodgdon has been a long-time friend of Stages Learning and is author of the best-selling book, "Visual Strategies for Improving Communication." We have invited her to impart some of her wisdom and experience in a guest blog and she discusses an important topic that comes up often in the autism space.
If you have a student with autism, you probably have a list of situations where you deal with problem behaviors and meltdowns. Children with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are frequently identified because of their difficulties with communication and behavior. Visual strategies provide a solution.
It’s likely that we all know someone who experiences anxiety, and there’s no doubt that anxiety can be exhausting and can interfere with daily life. For children with autism, anxiety can occur more frequently and can be very intense. Seemingly simple daily activities such as leaving the house, interacting with peers, riding in the car, or taking public transportation can become increasingly difficult and anxiety provoking. In order to help children who may be experiencing anxiety, it is important for parents and teachers to understand anxiety and how it may be affecting children with autism.
What is Social Thinking?
Social Thinking is a flexible teaching framework that is designed to help individuals ages four and up with autism spectrum disorder and other social and communication difficulties. The framework helps these individuals better understand the process by which we interpret the thoughts, beliefs, intentions, emotions, and actions of another person within the context of a situation. We use this information every day to better understand the experience of those around us. This understanding helps us respond in a way that will effect the other person’s thoughts about us in order to ultimately achieve our social goals.
Social Skills & Autism
Autism Spectrum Disorder is characterized by deficits in social communication and interaction. This can include challenges in social-emotional reciprocity and non-verbal communication used in social interactions. This can often lead to children with autism having a hard time developing and maintaining meaningful relationships with their peers.
|Stages Learning Emotion Cards|
This article was originally written in English and has been translated into Chinese.
*Print out out Free Card to give to a stranger when your child is having a difficult time in public.
The “Five W’s” approach to choosing when to be an ambassador for autism and when to walk away.
Children with autism and their families often find themselves in uncomfortable situations during encounters with strangers. Despite much more widespread awareness about autism, strangers can be outright rude, insensitive, or simply ill informed. Any parent wants to step in and defend their own child, but for parents of children with autism, there often is an even stronger desire to defend and protect their child. These psychologically demanding public encounters with strangers are confusing, hurtful, and stressful for parents and children (Ryan, 2010).
This lesson plan gives the classic card game Go Fish an emotional makeover! Students work on their expressive and receptive vocabulary and understanding of the five basic emotions, all while practicing social skills, taking turns, and following the rules of the game.
Parents and educators often struggle to help children with autism communicate their feelings. When children with autism have trouble recognizing and communicating how they feel, it may contribute to inappropriate behaviors such as tantruming and aggression, or even increased social withdrawal. If our kids could tell us how they feel, they would be less frustrated, and we would be better able to help solve their dissatisfaction.
Lesson Plan Overview
Use Stages Emotion Cards with literature to support a child's recognition of facial emotions and feelings in various contexts.
- Learn and name parts of the human face.
- Learn that people carry many cues to identify how they feel.
- Learn that facial expressions change as emotions change.