This blog post will step away for a quick second from talking about our Anxiety Groups. But don't worry, I'll get back to those. Let's talk a little about social groups...
As you know, kids get bored fast! That's why I like to add in activities that serve as reinforcement for any group I do. Having lessons are great, but you gotta make the group fun! If kids remember fun, they will be more inclined to consistently want to go and participate in your group. Many of my groups are push-in, or whole group where I go into the classroom. But I also have pull-out groups for kids who need more intensive services. When I go into the class to get my kiddos, they are usually super excited to see me and I actually have other kids begging to go, even though it's not their group. Now, this may be for several reasons, one of which is "anything is better than math" or whatever subject they might be missing. But I also know that my kids perceive me as fun. It's one of the first things I learned from my mentor when working with kids with ASD and other learning challenges, is that YOU GOTTA BE FUN.
So, what do I use for activities and reinforcement for my anxiety group??? Well, mostly technology! Kids are gaga over the iPad or anything on the computer. So we use a lot of apps and watch a lot of videos. But I also have a few go to software programs that I'd like to mention here.
|Social Express has fun characters and is interactive|
I found Social Express as an app many years ago. Immediately I liked it because it was animated kids in situations that dealt directly with perspective taking, emotional regulation and expected behaviors. It fit well with the Social Thinking Curriculums by Michelle Garcia Winner. My kids were engaged and could interact with the videos. It is not cheap, it's $69.99, but chocked full of good stuff. There is still an app Social Express II available as well. I recommend this as an adjunct for group or individual. It's fairly easy to navigate through as well.
Another great program I like is the Model Me Kids series. These are DVDs with a variety of social stories on them. They have a series for younger kids at home and at school, and a series for elementary and now middle school as well. These are well done videos. For the early learners, the videos are slow and very concrete to understand. A summary of bullet points is given at the end of each short video. There are files available to print out as well. Additionally, there are student and teacher workbooks for additional activities and worksheets. The programs are reasonably priced at around $29.95 each. Now there are bundles available as well. Some of the topics that I really thought were well done are "Show Interest", "Body Language", "Empathy" (all on the Friendship series) and on the Tips and Tricks series, "Voice Modulation", "Tact", and "Blurting". Two clips that I find EXTREMELY helpful on this series is, "Forgive" and "Being wrong". I don't know about you, but my older kids with ASD hold grudges for a really long time! We work on this a lot and I found these videos hit home with some of my guys.
|Model Me Kids are a great add-on resource for your social groups!|
The recommended age groups for the Model Me Kids vary. I found using the ages 9 and up fine for my 3rd graders and up. You'll just have to check them out and see. I love using these in conjunction with my own lessons that I have created based on many Social Thinking topics. For example, I love using the video on Model Me Kids for "Tact", with my lessons on Social Filter.
|THOUGHT BUBBLES AND SOCIAL FILTER on my TpT|
Recently, on this topic, were some middle schoolers who were constantly correcting or talking out disrespectfully to the teacher. So we put together another great lesson on social filter and social norms that also can be used with "Tact".
|As an adjunct to your Social Thinking lessons and your Model Me Kids, this lesson is great.|
We'll get back to our anxiety group soon and also talk about some more great resources. Thanks for reading!