Chapter 3- Middle Four

 By: Kelsey Brown, Mary Gwen Walker, Meredith Romanick

How is this group of skills different from earlier skills?

  •  Learner begins to use directed communication and understand that others have different ideas than their own as well as recognizing the social activity happening around him/her. (Perspective taking)

  •  Learner starts to understand that their actions affect relationships with others, and realize that learning these social skills will help to become social, which is the goal. (Self-awareness) ***so important for feeling included***

  • Learner beings to understand that others have different ideas, thoughts and interests (perspective taking)

  • Trained peers become an important part in learning these new skills.

The 4 new skills:

  1. Reciprocal Exchange- learns to “wait for the response of her social partner and to engage in back-and-forth interaction for an increasing number of exchanges”

    • What does it look like? Learner’s body is oriented to partner. When the partner pauses during a conversation, the learner recognizes it’s now their turn to talk. The learner maintains focus with partner during exchange and anticipates responses from partner. The main objective here is to make interactions more fluid.

  2. Give and Take of Conversation- learns to “send and receive messages as part of a social interaction”

    •  What does it look like? This is more spontaneous than other skills. Demonstration of this step includes 3 exchanges of back-and-forth conversation on a shared topic. Messages can be with words (directions, requests, questions, comments directed towards someone) or without words (pointing to or giving an object to partner) to show them. The main objective here is engagement in “spontaneous back-and-forth”.

  3. Perspective Taking- learns that “others have different thoughts than she does and is able to comment about what other people might be thinking”

    • What does it look like? The learner is reading verbal and nonverbal cues to figure out what others might be thinking. The learner may make changes to their own behaviors and facial expressions as they know that these things affect the way others think about them. They recognize that what others think impacts their own feelings. The main objective here is finding the best ways to read verbal and nonverbal cues.

  4. Reading the Social Scene- “notices what is happening in a social environment , attending to what is relevant, and finding a way to be a part of a social situation”

    •  What does it look like? Upon entering a new environment, the learner takes in the social information. They note who is there, what is happening, and what they are talking about. The learner uses this information to adjust social communication to match the situation and join the interaction. The main objective here is labeling social scenes and finding one that interests the individual and that they want to be a part of.

Evidence-Based Practices to Support Middle 4

  • Social Skill Training- “used to teach individuals with ASD ways to appropriately interact with typically developing peers” (Collet-Klingenberg, 2009, p.1)

  • Social Narratives- “interventions that describe social situations is some detail by highlighting relevant cues and offering examples of appropriate responding” (Collet-Klingenberg & Franzone, 2008, p.1)

  • Video Modeling- “uses video recording to provide a visual model of the targeted behavior or skill” (Franzone & Collet-Klingenberg, 2008, p.1)

  • Peer Mediated Instruction and Intervention- “used to teach typically developing peers ways to interact with and help learners with ASD acquire new social skills” (Neitzel, 2008, p.1)

Overall impressions: This book assumes that everyone wants to be social. I find that to be a powerful thought. Just because someone lacks social skills does not mean he does not want to engage or be included. But, as we grow up, we want to surround ourselves with people who make us feel good. Have you ever been talking to someone who interrupted you (didn’t wait for their turn in the “reciprocal exchange”)? Have you ever had a conversation with someone and they just didn’t respond when it was their turn, leaving you hanging (didn’t quite get the “give and take of conversation”)? Or maybe someone seemed really self-centered and said some things that didn’t take your feelings into consideration (because they were not “perspective taking”). We typically don’t want to be around these people because it’s awkward and not very enjoyable for us. These skills are vital for someone who wants to engage, form relationships, and feel included.


11 thoughts on “Chapter 3- Middle Four

  1. Mary Kivett says:

    I liked the different examples (i.e. video training, peer instruction, etc) of how to teach everyone involved from peers to adults on how to support someone learning social skills.

  2. Holly Hamill says:

    I, too, like the assumption that all people want to be social. We should remember that. Many of our students just lack the skills to know how to be social! These are higher level for some of our students for sure. And yes, I have interacted with adult communicators that need to work on these skills as well. I find that teaching ‘perspective taking’ is especially challenging. I just like how this book breaks it all down for us!

    • Christine Scally says:

      This really does seem key. If we assume a student wants to participate we can teach skills; if we assume they lack interest— we are off the hook.
      I’ve been working with a middle schooler on increasing engagement. During our first structured group activity designed to increase his engagement he didn’t participate at all — but by 15 minutes in he stood outside the circle saying, “I’m missing it.” “I ruined the greeting” “I want to learn to juggle” (our motor activity).

  3. Liz Olson says:

    I have found that the kids love video training and watching themselves. These suggestions are good for everyone not just students with ASD. We do a lot of role playing but I have found many times the students do not carry over the skills taught.

  4. Erin Norton says:

    I like the practical examples that the author provided. I hadn’t thought about video training but I think I might try that! I have been using social stories and it’s amazing how the students pick up on it. I did a whole group activity in a MSD classroom that included a social story and an activity to go along with it to show comprehension. It was great how they used the strategy right away and they started telling each other how to respond in certain social situations at school.

  5. Sarah Mullins says:

    Yesterday we had to role play in one of my MSD rooms because a student had a message for her grandpa, and knew exactly what she wanted to say, but didn’t realize the manner in which she was saying it. We role played the different perspectives, and this is crucial for our friends with ASD! Its amazing to see them progress to this level and be able to understand the different perspectives.

  6. Morgan Colyer says:

    I love your observation on how the book assumes kids/people want to be social. I think so often we can assume that someone doesn’t want to participate when in reality they might just not know how OR just have a different way of sharing their world than what we find as “typical”.

  7. Pam says:

    This chapter really has key components of learning social behaviors, components we sometimes work on for while. I especially liked the idea of the line drawing for Jessi when perspective taking. It’s a visual for the thoughts he is thinks regarding the subject at hand, and then different thoughts. I like the idea of letting him visualize digressions/ and also differences in perspective regarding the communication partner. From this reading, I also came up with a pattern that kind of looks like a game board. The two communication partners can put a token in the space with each comment. I also liked the idea of perusing an environment and pointing out the different kinds of social events taking place.

  8. Candra Grether says:

    Of the evidence-based practices suggested in this chapter, I always find myself so amazed at how well social stories can help. I have found these to be a great intervention for my MSD teachers to address a variety of skills from social expectations to safety considerations. I often think of students in my MSD classrooms as students who benefit from this type of intervention the most but I recently created a social story for one of my students whose primary disability is Speech Language Impairment and it has also been very helpful for social communication deficits. I am planning to incorporate social stories more with some of my other students who are not in MSD classrooms.

  9. Jennifer Johnston says:

    This chapter made me think of one of my 1st year preschoolers who is on the spectrum. This kid didn’t seem to know that I even existed despite being in his room almost daily. Our therapy time had occasional, very brief periods of joint attention and engagement. It was a stretch.
    Then, it seemed like all of a sudden, he was stuck to me as soon as I entered the room. I don’t even need to introduce materials to him at this point. He brings things to me, happily vocalizes, enthusiastically tapping my arm for a sold half hour trying to hold my complete attention. He most definitely enjoys sharing space, attention and taking turns during play activities with me—peers, not so much yet, but still, this has been a huge leap forward. In hindsight, I think he was not able to self-regulate until after Christmas.

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