Wednesday, May 24, 2017

How to Teach Kids the Social Skill of Think it or Say it?

One of my favorite things about my son J is his brutal honesty. He always tells us exactly what he is thinking, which is a great. We know we can count on him to tell the truth when needed. And we always know when he does or does not like something.

But sometimes, his comments can be inappropriate or hurtful.

Like when he said, "that guy has a really big tummy" while passing the receipt checking employee on the way out of Canadian Tire.

Or that a loved one has a big butt right to her face.

Or the time he made a comment about a little person, one I'm sure that person has heard many times before.

He has absolutely no filter, like many kids on the spectrum. Okay, like most kids in general. So we are constantly working on teaching him when to think it or when to say it, especially when out in public. Here are some of the ways that we have been working on teaching kids the social skill of think it or say it.

How to teach kids how to filter thoughts so that they know when to think it and when to say it from And Next Comes L

My Favorite Ways to Teach Kids When to Think it and When to Say it

When it comes to teaching the social skills of think it or say it, books have always been the best method for us. My hyperlexic son obviously loves to read and it is his strength so naturally we use it to work on other skills.

However, with regards to working on think it or say it?, I like to use a lot of books that use thought bubbles and speech balloons to reinforce this particular skill. We also love to use these types of books to work on comprehension so you can already find a list of picture books to start with there. You can also read comic books and graphic novels to further help with teaching this social skill.

The other thing we like to do is model language that is helpful for teaching the difference between thinking it and saying it

When it comes to teaching social skills to hyperlexic kids, it is best to teach them directly and give them the scripts and phrases they need to be successful. For instance, in the privacy of our own home or in the car, I will frequently ask J to share what he is thinking about and encourage him to use phrases like "I am thinking about..." or "I wonder if..." Then we will discuss whether it should remain an inside thought (something to keep to himself) or an outside thought (one that he can share with others by saying it to others). This practice will help him become more proficient at filtering out what he can say and what he cannot say to someone else.

Free Printable Resources to Work on this Social Skill

Here are some wonderful free resources to work on this social skill.

1. Think it or Say It Cut & Paste Sorting Worksheet - Practice makes perfect, right? Help your child practice the difference between things we can say and things we can think with this handy worksheet.

2. Thinking & Talking Bubble Visual Posters - You could print these off as small cue cards to keep handy with you while out and about or hang them up as posters to reinforce the important difference between when to think it and when to say it.

3. Brain Social Filter & Thinking and Talking Printables - There are two great printables available here to help kids work on when to think something or when to say it instead. Just scroll through the list until you find the printables called "Brain Social Filter" and "Thinking and Talking Bubbles."

4. Comic Book Templates - Drawing and writing your own comic is a great way to reinforce this skill as it encourages your child to think about whether a character would be saying or thinking something in particular. I personally love these free templates. I also really love these social emotional comic strips, although they are not free.

Social Skills Video to Teach Kids When to Think it and When to Say it

Video modeling is especially helpful for kids with autism so I highly recommend watching the following social skills video with your child. You could also pair it with the printable resources found above to further discuss the distinction between when to think it and when to say it.


Other Ideas You'll Love

This post is part of a monthly series called Parenting Children with Special Needs. This month's topic is managing public situations and you can find the other posts regarding this topic below.

Dear Mom at the Park | This Outnumbered Mama

How to teach kids how to filter thoughts so that they know when to think it and when to say it from And Next Comes L
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4 comments:

  1. My autistic daughter is non-verbal but I think I'll use these strategies with my 3 year old. As of this moment, she has no filter and she's definitely not shy about speaking her mind.

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  2. For my son (who sounds very similar to J!) we've used comic strip conversations and thought bubbles in the past to help him with his social filter. At 13, he's still working on it but he is much better than he was 5 years ago. Like you, I've had a few rather awkward moments over the years!

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    1. I think we have all had awkward moments like that!

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