Using Social Scripts to Help Students With Autism Understand Coronavirus
During these stressful and uncertain times, it is vital that we help our students with autism understand coronavirus; what it is and why everything is changing all the time. This is because uncertainty can often result in intense feelings of anxiety for students with autism.
Social scripts are the key for helping students with autism to understand events and situations. This is why I love the quote below
“Improvements in behaviour doesn’t come from the social script. It comes from improved understanding of events and situations.”
The advantage of social scripts is the children can refer back to them many times to boost understanding. Social scripts can also tell students what they can do, by providing alternative situations (e.g. whilst the social script might explain why students are unable to see the grandparents for a while, they can also explain that students are still able to FaceTime them).
This is why I HIGHLY recommend you all use social scripts with the students you know.
How to Create Successful Social Scripts to Help Students with Autism
- Use Photos, line drawings, comic strips or even video to support social scripts.
- Many students with autism like helping to make the social scripts – this can include selecting photos, typing or writing words, illustrating or laminating the finished book
- It is important to use words that aren’t too specific such as ‘Sometimes,’ ‘Usually,’ ‘Often,’ or ‘Occasionally’ – this allows for flexibility
- Social scripts are ALWAYS positive. Don’t use sentences such as ‘I often interrupt,’ or ‘Sometimes I hit other children.’ These sentences don’t give information about available alternatives.
- Read the social script with the student and check they understand, often it takes a few edits to get the social script perfect.
The key with Social Scripts is they need to be re-read often to reinforce the learning.
Below I created:
- An example of how to create a social script
- My own social script to use to help students with autism understand coronavirus
- A blank template for you to make your own!
I hope you found those templates and example helpful! Here are some more ideas of social scripts to consider making:
- Why I Can’t Touch My Friends
- Why I Need To Social Distance Myself
- Why I Can’t Visit Grandparents
- Why I Need To Keep Washing My Hands
Remember it is important to include what the child CAN do in the social script. This is important to reduce anxiety and provide the students with alternative solutions
e.g. They can’t visit their grandparents but they CAN FaceTime them. They can’t play with their friends but they CAN play fortnite together online.
If you want to know more about making social scripts, here is an old podcast to listen to for more tips
Worksheet to Increase Understanding and Reduce Anxiety in Students with Autism
I have created this worksheet as a way to open communication between you and the student with autism. It is a great starter to discuss emotions especially for non-verbal children. I HIGHLY recommend doing this worksheet with the whole family, or class (online or in the classroom!) as it shows students that everyone is feeling different but all feelings are okay.
Sue Larkey Books
The Ultimate Guide to School and Home
By Sue Larkey and Anna Tullemans
This book provides key strategies for all ages and stages. It offers over 500 practical strategies and timer savers for school and home from engaging disengaged students, what to do if you don’t have a teacher assistant to considerations for setting up a classroom for teachers; and from developing friends, to moving house and choosing a school for families. It is the ultimate guide for teachers, parents and all professionals supporting children with autism spectrum disorder, including Aspergers, ADD, ADHD, ODD and other developmental delays.
Developing Social Skills
A starting point for teaching and encouraging social interactions and skills for children with an autism spectrum disorder and other developmental delays. It is a useful concrete and visual resource which when coupled with videoing, role playing and modeling will help young primary school age children with an autism spectrum disorder to better understand the social world around them. This book includes hundreds of ideas, social stories and worksheets. It is a great resource full of time savers for home and school.
The Early Years
This book is full of practical ideas to give children with an ASD and other developmental delays the KEYS to learning. Teaching to play, write, draw, imitate etc. Toilet training, community access, etc. To sit, ask for help, wait, play, attention to task, sign songs, etc. Great easy to photocopy programmes.
Cook Books and Teaching Manual
This Manual and Both Cook books have ready-made programmes linking curriculum and educational outcomes. These books are an ideal teaching programme for everyone. Cooking is a marvelous tool to teach everything from maths to social skills. Because cooking is a favourite with all children it’s a wonderful teaching and learning activity appropriate for all ages and stages!
Teacher Assistant Big Red Book of Ideas
Hundreds of ideas you can try. Setting up the classroom, the role of the teacher assistant, behaviour in the classroom and playground, stages of anxiety, transition, sensory toys and activities. Includes frequently asked questions and MORE!
Teacher Assistants Big Blue Book of Ideas
Companion to the Teacher Assistants Big Red Book of Ideas. Hundreds of new strategies to try. Social skills: playgrounds, friendships, building self esteem, bullying. In the classroom: getting on task, adapting tasks and exams, building independence. Managing anxiety and behaviour