When it comes to social skills, CONTEXT matters!

I’m starting to think that the advertising team working for State Farm HAS TO HAVE a speech-language pathologist on their team because all of their recent commercials are all related to tone of voice and/or context!

When it comes to social skills, CONTEXT is very important. You can say one thing in one place or situation and it will mean one thing, but if you say the SAME thing in another context, it can totally have a different meaning.

Use this commercial to get a conversation going with your students about the importance of context when it comes to social skills.

When it comes to social situations, some things are “OK” to DO in one context, and considered not “OK” in another. Students who struggle with social skills have a hard time figuring this out. They may start digging for a booger in the middle of class and not understand why that is SO not “OK” and the entire class is screaming, “Eeeewwww!”

You may find it uncomfortable to think about, but I explain to my students that it’s not “OK” to pick your nose in public, but it IS totally “OK” to do so in the privacy of your home as long as you use a tissue to discard of the findings and wash your hands after. You know you do it too… Don’t deny it.

The booger picking example is an extreme one but actually the list of examples of how context matters goes on an on. The booger one is just an attention grabbing one that most students can relate to.

When it comes to social skills, CONTEXT matters when it comes to what is considered “OK” to say and do. I love using this book to help my students learn more about context and the role it plays.

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I’ve also created an activity on my Teachers Pay Teachers site to help students learn and discuss this topic. Check it out here.

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Talk with your students and come up with a list of what’s “OK” and not “OK” to SAY and DO in different contexts and don’t forget to laugh and have fun with it!

 

 

What You Say Isn’t Always What You Mean

I love using witty commercials to get a conversation going with my clients about the importance of social skills and these two Citibank commercials are perfect!

I love Citibank’s tagline: Wouldn’t it be great if everyone said what they meant? 

For people who struggle with social skills, life would be easier if everyone said what they meant.

This is especially true when dating. People want to avoid awkward moments, so they mask their true intentions with niceties. Most people want to avoid hurting others’ feelings so they tell “white lies”.

Some cultures use more direct language but here in America, our language is filled with indirect and implied language in order to reduce awkward situations and appear more polite and agreeable.  So, it’s important to think about others’ thinking to figure out people’s true intentions.

After you show these commercials, use examples like this to keep the conversation going about the need to think about others’ thinking:

This is a conversation that happens on a regular basis in my home. My husband gets a lot of practice thinking about my thinking just to figure out what’s for dinner! The implied language is in parentheses.

Husband: What should we eat for dinner?  

Me: I doesn’t matter. (It does matter)

Husband: We could make hamburgers.

Me: We could… or we could make tacos. (I don’t want hamburgers)

Husband: What about steak?

Me: We already have the ‘fixins for tacos. (I don’t want steak either)

Husband: Ok… Tacos it is.

Me: Perfect! That was easy.

Husband: It SURE was. (It was NOT easy. Why didn’t you just say you wanted tacos in the first place?)

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Use this visual to help your students or clients think about the thinking of others. Help them learn to pick up on clues from context, tone of voice, and body language to help them figure out what people REALLY mean. Then, ask them to come up with their own examples of how people don’t always say what they mean.

Get creative and have fun!

Michelle Garcia Winner  has a great book that contains many useful worksheets related to indirect and implied language. I couldn’t do my job without this book!

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You can purchase it here:   Social Thinking Thinksheets for Tweens and Teens

Check out my Teachers Pay Teachers site for more social skills activities. You can find it here: The Creative SLP

This CAN’T be happening!

 

After finally creating my blog this past weekend, I spent a few days pondering about what to post. There are so many topics to cover. But then, as I came home today for a quick lunch break, it came to me. Well, it came on my TV. The topic that I’m most passionate about is social skills. And, after watching this hilarious commercial, I knew exactly what to post.  For students who struggle socially, trying to figure out what people are REALLY saying can leave you feeling just as “jacked up” as the guy in this commercial!

If you have children or work with students who struggle socially, this video will be a fun and easy way to get a few very important ideas across. Try this and let me know how it goes!

Before showing the commercial, have the child practice saying the following sentences a few times. *Encourage them to add more stress or emotion to the words that are in bold. 

         Is this MY CAR? What?! THIS is RIDICULOUS! This can’t be HAPPENING!

Then ask them what they think is happening based on the sentences.  Discuss with them how they think a different tone of voice, or the way you change your voice as you speak, impacts the meaning of what you say. Also, ask them if they think context, or where you are/who you’re with, has anything to do with the meaning of what you say.

THEN, show them this commercial:

After watching the commercial, revisit your discussion and ask the questions again and discuss.

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Ask them what they thought the girl was thinking and feeling as she realized she just got a new car.

Ask them what they think the man was thinking and feeling after he realized his tires were stolen.

Next, have them practice saying the same sentences, but take turns speaking as the girl and then as the man. *You may have to help them practice changing the tone in their voice. 

Is this MY CAR? What?! THIS is RIDICULOUS! This can’t be HAPPENING!

&

Is THIS my car? What?! This is ridiculous! This CAN’T be happening.

Have them answer how the context of the situation gave them clues about the meaning of what they were saying. Help them discuss how that applies to their lives and how it matters where you are and who you’re with when you say things.

Finally, have them summarize what they learned. Help them come up with a “take away” lesson about TONE OF VOICE and CONTEXT. AND…if you really want what they’ve learned to “sink in”, have them teach what they’ve learned to their family or other friends. Encourage them to use the State Farm commercial to help them explain what they learned.

I can’t wait to try this with my social skills clients!

Check out this website for more useful info about how to support and build social skills:

https://www.socialthinking.com/