Teacher Toolbox
Classroom Management - Social Interactions

Social Discourse

Children with special needs often have difficulties understanding the subtle nuances conveyed during conversations, maintaining the thread of the conversation because of difficulties with encoding and speed of processing, and may overlook the message that is presented through speech and gestures.

The Social Skills Toolbox contains many helpful tips for understaning social cues. Additonal classroom activities include:

  • In a small group setting, practice with students the meaning of words using different vocal intonations.  This will help students recognize the differences in meaning caused by vocal changes.
  • Play games that practice the speed of speech – have the children say something slowly, have the children say it fast.  Have them change the rate of speech as you call out instructions.
  • bottoms upEncourage the children to listen to others during discussion.  Use a talking stick, or another object and pass it around when talking about a topic.  Establish the rule that a person can only speak when they have the talking stick in their hands. This helps to practice listening, waiting turns, and thinking about a topic before speaking; also it can help cue children to plan instead of quickly reacting.
  • Have children count to 10 slowly (or backwards) before making a response.  While counting, this provides time for them to register what the other person has said and they can prepare a response.
  • Play non-competitive games to help children learn to listen and exchange information.  For example, the Ungame and other commercial games can be used during activities to practice waiting turns, listening, and formulating a response. Make your own Social Skills card game.

Children with special needs would benefit from support to learn how to maintain social, verbal exchanges.

Children need to learn the skills to regulate their reactions to a comment or an action. With appropriate adult facilitation, direction instruction, guidance, and supervision, children can learn to interact in a variety of social situations