Debra kusick 2
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  • 1. Learning Skill focus: Listening Key term: Whole body listening Purpose statement: The skills of listening and following directions are closely related. Often we tell a child to "listen" when we really mean "listen and do what I say." The ability to "listen" and follow directions is influenced by how information is presented. Stating "I don't want to see you running in the hall again" may have the unintended effect of encouraging the child to run when you are not looking (i.e. you don't see him running). When this happens, we say that the child "doesn't listen" because we have told him not to run in the hall. This is not a listening problem, however, but a communication problem, as we need to speak in a way the child understands, given the child's tendency to interpret language literally. As a result, we must be careful how we construe "listening." A child may have a communicative practice that differs from our own. This is illustrated by showing a child a picture and asking them what they see - the answer can be very informative. When showing a child a magazine picture of an angry person jumping on the bed, we may be surprised that they see the tiny glass on the bedside table that was tipping and spilling liquid. Some children focus on parts of information rather than the whole. Their skill lies in focusing on details while they have severe deficits in organizing information (Meyer & Minshew, 2002). Asking a child to listen to lengthy directions and to recall the main idea of the assignment may end up frustrating everyone involved. A typical response from a supervising adult, "Didn't you listen?" Given that the information is likely to be jumbled and forgotten somewhere in the child's brain, such a question misses the mark. These children need help in developing a memory "storage system" to be able to access information. Listening will be presented here with an emphasis on showing one is listening. Our term will be Whole Body Listening. Eyes look at the person talking to you Ears ready to hear Mouth quiet, no talking, humming, making sounds Hands quiet, in lap or by your sides Feet-quiet on the floor Body- faces the speaker Brain- Thinking what has been said Heart- Caring about what the person has said
  • 2. Learning Skill focus: Flexible Thinking Key terms: Rock brain (inflexible), and SuperFlex (solve any problem many ways. Imbedded learning: Listening Skills "I --------- when ----------" We explain an action and avoid the word YOU. Active listener responds: "I hear ......." Purpose statement: Being flexible is unknown and foreign to children who are rigid in their thinking and preferences. Their reliance on rigidity and routine helps them to predict and manage life's daily events providing a sense of control over their environment. However, life is not rigid, but fluid and spontaneous. An atypical social thinker has difficulty when the unexpected occurs and in new or unfamiliar situations. In such circumstances, being unable to predict what will happen next intensifies the child's growing stress and anxiety and may result in increased rigidity and a possible meltdown. Flexibility is essential in such situations to manage feelings of excitement, uncertainty, or even misunderstanding. Some Tier 3 students believe there is only one right way to do things. Their inability to "let go" in an argument, and insistence upon rigidly following specific rules, interferes with their ability to successfully establish peer relationships. Finally, rigid monologues about narrow special-interest topics coupled with an unyielding "knowit-all" attitude frequently annoy and alienate those whom the child is trying to befriend. To develop social competence, children must experience the flexibility that is required when trying to come to some sort of agreement with others, as well as when solving problems. We must support them to show that flexibility is nothing to be afraid of. Steps to Success Poster emphasizes: There are many ways to do something. Being flexible helps us work with others when solving problems. Stop. Take a deep breath. Let it go. Think. "What is happening here?" Go. Make a plan. Remember There is more than one right way. There is always another way.
  • 3. Learning Skill focus: Dealing with Mistakes Key terms: Learning self-regulation skills "It's a mistake, but I can handle it." Learning size of the problem. Is it a big problem or a little problem?" How others perceive us based on our reaction to the mistake. Imbedded learning: Listening Skills "I --------- when ----------" We explain an action and avoid the word YOU. Active listener responds: "I hear ......." Flexible thinking Purpose statement: Many children copying with Social Communication skills are perfectionists and may view mistakes as "failures." They have trouble accepting mistakes they make themselves, as well as those made by others. We must help them to realize that everyone makes mistakes and that it is O.K. Sometimes they have difficulty trying something that is hard for fear of making a mistake. It is important to reinforce that many times the only way to learn new things is to try. Children who are used to constant help may need extra encouragement to try tasks independently and cope with their mistakes. The unpredictable nature of mistakes may also cause problems. It is difficult to know exactly when a mistake might happen. For children who are rule-bound, this can create much anxiety. Finally, some children tend to blame others for their mistakes and look for excuses. They need help learning that the responsible reaction is to admit your mistake and try to correct it. Steps to Success Poster emphasizes: STOP. Take a deep breath. Keep calm. THINK: "It's a mistake, but I can handle it." GO: Choose to - ask for help, try again, admit your mistake, apologize and correct it, accept another's apology.
  • 4. Learning Skill focus: Reading the feelings of others Key terms: What should your body look like? (e.g. to be sympathetic, calm, patient) Imbedded learning: Listening Skills "I --------- when ----------" We explain an action and avoid the word YOU. Active listener responds: "I hear ......." Flexible thinking : If not this way, another way Size of the problem: Does the size of the problem warrant the size of the response. Purpose statement: Reading body language and reading the feelings of others go hand in hand. The primary focus of both skills is on recognizing what is happening in a given situation and responding appropriately. Steps to Success Poster emphasizes: STOP. Look for clues. Read body language. Listen to the tone of voice. Listen to the words. THINK: I can recognize the feeling. I can understand the feeling. GO: Respond to the feeling.
  • 5. Learning Skill focus: Dealing with a Problem Key terms: Is it a big problem or a little problem? Does your response match the size of the problem? Imbedded learning: Listening Skills "I --------- when ----------." We explain an action and avoid the word YOU. Active listener responds: "I hear ......." Flexible thinking : If not this way, another way Read the room: What can you learn from how others are feeling? About their body language while solving the problem? Purpose statement: Problems are a challenge for everyone in everyday life. For those with communicative challenges, it may be more useful to think in terms of lessening, reducing, coping with or managing problems, rather than solving them. Since it is not always a realistic option to solve a problem, it is better not to present this expectation to concrete thinkers as it may reinforce their feelings of failure when they are unable to do so. Sometimes one can only tackle part of a problem because many others are involved. At other times problems can seem so overwhelming that one does not know where to begin, much less how to solve them. Therefore, for the benefit of all, it may be better to think in different terms than "problem solving." Lessening a problem may involve planning ahead for these students. For example, when we teach a game, be sure to include teaching how to lose (redefine winning; "winners are smiling at the end of the game", praise what is going well, teach graceful winning; "Good game!", lose gracefully "Congratulations!", encourage selfreflection' "What went well? What can we practice on." Teach to the boring moments, everyone gets bored sometime. So teach what appropriate behavior looks like when we are bored. Boring is a feeling, behavior is an action. Steps to Success Poster emphasizes: STOP. Stay calm. THINK: "This is a problem. What is happening here?" GO: Sort out the problem. Think of different ways to manage the problem. Try a way. Choose another way if the first way doesn't work.
  • 6. Learning Skill focus: Dealing With Anger Purpose statement: Learning to deal with anger and the anger of others is important for all of us. Everyone must learn to cope with broken promises, false accusations, surprises, refusals, teasing, changes, frustration, disappointment and confusion without losing control. Being told "no," making a mistake, losing or forgetting something, confronting a "surprise," such as a change in routine or schedule, and struggling with difficult or overwhelming tasks are frequently triggers of intense emotional reactions. Other triggers might be misunderstanding directions, sensory overload, increased stress, and lack of control over the environment. In many children, the reaction may be excessive anger, but in some children it is intense anxiety or sadness. Often children have difficulty recognizing these emotions in themselves and in others. Irritation may quickly escalate to rage, or mild anxiety turn to panic. Recognizing personal triggers teach how to deal effectively with the situation. Steps to Success Poster emphasizes: STOP. Take a deep breath. Let it go. THINK: "What is happening here?" GO: Make a plan: Wait it out. Talk it out. Walk it out. Apologize if necessary.
  • 7. Learning Skill focus: Following Directions Purpose Statement: To follow directions or read instructions students must pay attention to what is happening in the surrounding environment, comprehend the information when it is given and often be able to recall it several moments later. They must also recognize the main objective of the direction, and not focus on some minute detail that, although related, is not the main point. (Foreshadowing of executive functioning knowledge) In addition, they must learn to differentiate when directions are given to a group (which includes the child) and when directions are given to individuals (which might or might not include the child). Recognizing THE NEED FOR HELP with directions and BEING ABLE TO ACCESS HELP is another challenge for youngsters. The best way to receive help is to ask the right questions. Some children feel pressured by time constraints, while others misjudge how long an activity might take, how long they have taken already, or how much time is left. (Time management is another executive functioning skill that students who are distracted, internally or externally, have difficulty managing- yes, executive functioning). These children must learn to notice time in order to successfully follow the direction. Timers or time-keeping systems can help. A problem for many children is that they have learned to avoid or escape when adults do not press compliance. Adults inadvertently reinforce noncompliance by not following through. For example, a parent would like the child to put away his toys before bedtime. After repeated unsuccessful requests to the child, who is watching television, the parent gives up. The child thereby escapes the task and goes to bed without cleaning up. Over time, the child learns he can escape this unpleasant task by ignoring the parent's direction. Such children need compliance training coupled with a reinforcement system to "relearn" how to follow directions. A typical problem for children with communicative disorders is "bossiness" - telling both adults and peers what to do by blurting out unwelcome advice that often gets them into trouble. Considering that s suggestion might not be welcome is outside of the child's customary way of thinking. Therefore, these children have to be directly taught to ask if their advice is wanted. A related problem is a child's inability to see and to understand another's point-of-view in the situation, sometimes referred to as "perspective-taking". (To be explored in the presentation on Social Thinking). He cannot separate individually distinct roles and responsibilities, such as between adult and child. The child might say, "You are not the boss," usually when he is being told to do something he does not want to do. One strategy
  • 8. to help address this problem is to define individual roles and list them on a sheet of paper. For example, "In the classroom it is the teacher's responsibility to give directions. It is the student's responsibility to ask questions if he does not understand the directions and then to follow them." T-charts, listening the responsibilities of the students and the teacher, are useful tools for documenting expectations for the class and as a reference point for each student. Some final thoughts concern the way directions are given. Directions should be clear, precise and to the point. Visual supports may be necessary such as gestures, pictures, lists or charts. Directions should not include a choice unless the child truly has a choice. A common mistake is to use a questions such as "Can you put your coat away?" Another mistake is to offer explanations such as "Put your coat on because it is cold outside." Some children argue with the explanation rather than comply ("It's not cold outside"). Further, multi-step and complex instructions are usually overwhelming and confusing, and frequently repeating directions only teaches the child that the adult does not mean the direction the first time. Instead, make sure you have the child's attention before giving the direction. Ask her to repeat the direction, tell or show her exactly what to do and praise compliance.
  • 9. Learning Skill focus: Showing Interest in Others Purpose statement: Showing interest in others is a basic strategy used to initiate relationships and friendships. People show caring, thoughtfulness and sensitivity by the questions they ask and the comments they make. They regulate this communication by observing each others emotions. Successful friendships are not one-sided, but occur when friends are equal partners in the relationship. Teaching this aspect of friendship is often challenging. Some children are too engrossed in their personal interests to show any interest in others - they often do not understand the importance of doing so. They are perfectly content to talk continuously about their favorite topic. Others ask embarrassing personal questions or make offensive comments about another person's features, activities or habits without any regard for the negative aspects of their behavior. Frequently this interest occurs to satisfy a curiosity or to simply blurt out a thought. Usually the child is not trying to initiate a friendship.
  • 10. Learning Skill focus: Cooperating Purpose statement: Cooperating in an intricate blend of several social skills; listening, exchanging conversation, staying on task, offering a suggestion and compromising. It is especially challenging for children with communication challenges because this is an area were their numerous and wide-ranging social deficits can be most evident. The inability to read and interpret the subtle cues and nuances of conversation, body language and facial expression, while failing to engage in reciprocal interaction, leads to a breakdown in the communication necessary for successful cooperation. If you couple that with the inability to understand another's point of view while insisting upon imposing their own "expert" view, coupled with their inability to think about how their actions affect others frequently leads to rejection or ostracism. It is an essential skill for social competence. It is not a simple skill to learn. It requires practice, practice, practice.