Friday, June 3, 2011

Social Skills: Emotions & Nonverbal Communication

Emotions is a subject that will need to be addressed at some point in every social skills program.  Communication is all about emotions:  conveying emotion, eliciting emotions, and monitoring emotions in others.  So many of our ASD kids do not understand emotional states intuitively.  They very often misread facial expressions failing to take into account the context of the expression.  I like using advertising photos from magazines with my clients.  I will cut them out and laminate them on a sheet of construction paper.  I have a notebook full of interesting (inexpensive) "situational pictures".  One such picture was an ad for Kleenex.  The scene shows a crowded bus with passengers standing face to face.  One man is in the the middle of a sneeze and the woman in front of him has turned her face away from him with a horrified look on her face.  I have asked several of my clients on the spectrum to interpret what is going on in this picture and invariably the answer is that the woman is angry. I then will point out the context: the crowded bus, the tissue, the man sneezing.  Finally they understand, usually.  Their error is part deficient gestalt processing (not taking in all of the details as a whole scene) and part inability to read emotional expressions.

There are lots of great resources available these days to work on reading facial expressions.  Here are a few online resources I have located during a quick search.

Facial expressions tutorial: Examples of famous people lying (not for kids, but interesting).
Guess the animated expression:
Test of Emotional Intelligence:
Learning to enact emotions:
Mime Happy to Sad
Mime Afraid to Mad

Importance of emotional intelligence:

Social Referencing:

Super Duper Publications has an abundant supply of cards and programs available for purchase also.

Nonverbal Communication goes hand in hand with emotions (and also with eye contact, social referencing, inference).  We often communicate how we feel with not just our faces but our whole bodies.

Teaching Emotions Resources:

Emotions Books
Arthur PBS Kids Games:  How do they feel
Changing emotions game
Free App of 10 common facial expressions
Printable face games
This is How I feel Today
PRE-K Feelings (cause & effect)
Kermit the Frog Talks about Emotions
Bert & Ernie Feelings Game
Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head commercial: angry eyes
Some of the above links were found at One Place for Special Needs website.  They offer lots of links to information on a variety of Special Needs topics.
PINTEREST pinboard with emotions pics. Have the clients look at pics and guess the emotions.
Books That Heal Kids:  more book resources on teaching emotions

Jill Kuzma's Resources Links:
Emotions awareness and management
Test of Evidence:  Helping students examine their beliefs/emotions
SuperFlex simplified definitions list
Impulse control
Problem Continuum

Emotional Regulation:
Problem Scale
Video Clip:  Amanda Show: The Extremes

Self-Esteem ~or~ It is okay to be Different
Positive Attitude is Everything (youtube clip-Huggies)
Failure is not Defeat motivational video about heroes who failed before they succeeded.
Think Different

Our Behaviors Can Affect Others Emotions:
Is it bullying?
How to Make others feel Important
What everyone wants more than anything
For the Birds Pixar short about what happens to mean birds
Annoying Sounds from Despicable Me

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