Posted on October 13, 2009 by Big Universe in Uncategorized.
Children with emotional and social difficulties often have problems understanding and expressing their needs. They may not understand why they feel the way they do. Even more complex than this is that they don’t understand the correct way to respond to the way they are feeling.
Children on the Autism spectrum need to be taught how to respond to facial expressions and how to make those expressions themselves. Many of these children show a flat affect unless they are shown how to smile, show surprise, all the things most of us take for granted. The average child reacts to anger over a bad grade by squeezing their fists, crying, putting the paper away and vowing to study harder next time. The child on the Autism spectrum doesn’t filter this way. They tear the paper up, call the teacher names, stomp around the classroom and make it known to everyone that they are unhappy. These children need to be taught how to respond appropriately to a bad grade or other disappointing situations.
Childhood disabilities in the school room are becoming more complex. There are many more children entering the classroom with multiple disabilities that can’t be clearly labeled and as educators we have to be able to respond to the child rather than the label. Just because we don’t see Autism or emotional disability on the label doesn’t mean there can’t be inappropriate emotional reactions, and not all inappropriate emotional reactions are related to Autism or emotional disabilities. Any child with any type of brain trauma may show the same type of inability to interpret cues. Teachers need to become researchers.
How do we teach children who are unable to respond to emotional cues? They need direct instruction. One great way is through Social Stories. These are stories that an adult writes using a situation the child faces on a regular basis and coming up with a solution. The story is then read with the child regularly. The child can be put in the story as a character. This is where the Big Universe create a book resource is invaluable. The child’s picture can be inserted into the book, as can pictures of the classroom, cafeteria, playground, wherever the trouble spots are. There are hundreds of ways to write great social stories using Big Universe.
After writing a social story on Big Universe the story can be published to the website! In the next several weeks you’ll even be able to order hard bound copies if you wish but my favorite feature is the publishing to the web because then it becomes official. Kids with emotional disabilities of any type respond well to knowing something is a rule and will be more likely to do something if they know it is a rule that has to be followed. What’s more solid than seeing their stories on the web?