Here are a few of my favorite social skills resources that are FREEEEE!
There is a LOT of good stuff out there on the interwebs to help make your life easier- if you are a parent trying to teach your child or if you are a teacher or service provider. But how do you dig through all that stuff to find the GOOD stuff?
I’d like to share with you some teaching resources. These are NOT stand alone interventions. Using these tools alone will not cure autism or any other diagnosis, they will not decrease problem behavior when used alone, and they are not a magic fix. The ARE however tools to use to teach appropriate behaviors. They can help you communicate tricky social skills to your client or child. They can be used in conjunction with scientific, research-based interventions.  These tools alone are NOT science.
For more information as to why social skills curriculum does not equal science, read this article: Leaf, J. B., Kassardjian, A., Oppenheim-Leaf, M. L., Cihon, J. H., Taubman, M., Leaf, R., & McEachin, J. (2016). Social Thinking®: Science, Psuedoscience, or Antiscience?. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 1-6.
If you need individualized behavioral interventions- this post is not the place to find them. Instead, you need to seek the assistance of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Use this tool to find one in your area.
My favorite curriculum that I’ve seen to date for teaching social skills comes from Social Thinking. Michelle Garcia Winner breaks things down into concrete chunks that are easier to digest for kids. For example, behavior is either expected or unexpected and other people either have good thoughts or weird thoughts about our behavior.
Here is a video about ‘Thinking with your Eyes’- a more concrete way to teach why eye contact matters.
Here are a bunch of PDF handouts for social perspective taking from a website created by an SLP.  She has a ton of other resources and ideas on her site, too.
Size of Problems activity idea
I am a HUGE fan of social behavior mapping (again from Social Thinking). Here are several resources related to mapping:

  1. Informative PDF that includes blank map template
  2. Youtube video presentation explaining social behavior mapping- not professional quality though.
  3. Sample filled in maps for context: eating in the cafeteria & riding the school bus

Another favorite of mine is The Incredible 5 Point Scale.  Here are some more things to go along with it:

  1. Anxiety curve and other examples from the author
  2. A review of the book that includes ideas for implementation

I promise I don’t work for Social Thinking- I wish I did! Are you reading this, MGW? No. Oh well. The last topic I’m going to gush about is Zones of Regulation.

  1. Holy moly- the motherload of zones of regulation resources!
  2. Some fun games and activities based on the book
  3. Ideas for visuals and links to even more resources

I used to have so much fun making games using expected/unexpected behaviors and the 5 point scale. We’d find so many ways to classify behaviors as expected and unexpected- if it’s expected, jump inside the hula hoop, if it’s unexpected jump out. Put post-its on the 5 point scale for how your face looks at each number, how your body feels, things that might make you feel at that number. You name it- I did it with some amazing elementary students in one of my former lives. I also have taught one of the first lessons in the Think Social curriculum about a bazillion times where the teacher engages in unexpected behaviors until a student calls them out on it and claims to have weird thoughts about the teacher. It’s so fun and so concrete for them!
I’d love to add more to this list- share what you’d like to see added!
Find behavior analytic science strategies in my book, Parenting with Science: Behavior Analysis Saves Mom’s Sanity