We have so many children, on and off the autism spectrum, who struggle with use of appropriate vs. inappropriate language as well as varying communication styles between different communication partners. This activity was created to assist in targeting these skills and raise awareness of these subtle nuances of social/pragmatic language. The comments and questions are a blend of possible messages, ones heard through personal experience, as well as those collected from colleagues working in the educational environment. Special thanks to Ashley Hagan, Jackie Weber, Cindy Viscounte, Christina Douglas, Jennifer McDonough, Chelsea Anderson, Denise McConnell and Connie Offenburg… please forgive me if I have forgotten anyone!
4 category cards (varying communication partners~ Formal adults (including teachers), family, friends, things that can be thought, but not said!)
33 speech bubble comment cards~ some appropriate and some not
7 blank speech bubble comment cards to personalized use
Directions/suggestions for use:
For small group use: Print 2 pages per sheet of paper! Laminate for durability. Cut apart the category cards as well as the comment cards.
Use the category cards to introduce the subject of Appropriate vs. Inappropriate language/ Formal vs. Informal language according to communication partners. Have the pile of comment cards stacked, face down or in some sort of bag/container. Take turns drawing a card; have the student identify which communication partner(s) would be appropriate for such a comment/question (the comments/questions may be appropriate in more than one category.) There is also a “Think, but DO NOT SAY!” category to reinforce/introduce the concept that all truths do not need to be expressed!
Please use Theory of Mind (Premack and Woodruff, 1978)/perspective taking opportunities when available to help our students place themselves in other’s shoes; to reflect how others may feel if certain language was used with them. I suggest urging your students to think of alternatives for some comments/questions that would be more appropriate! Flip the laminated card over and either you or your students draw a speech bubble and write an appropriate message~ or use one of the blank speech bubbles.
Additionally, nearly two blank pages of speech bubbles are included to offer opportunities for individual/novel needs.