Social Language Skills

Therapy idea needed:

For a kid who’s working on social language skills, does anyone have suggestions for learning not to include irrelevant details?  He’s only 5, so it has to be somewhat simple.  (It’s similar to how all kids want to count the number of things on a page while you’re reading instead of listening to the story, but he does it to an extreme with irrelevant, incomplete details that put the conversation to a halt.  For example, you’ll be talking about a story and he’ll say “2010”  (b/c he saw a calendar in the background of a page in the book).  The listener is often confused, even if she could figure out where the comment came from b/c it’s not a complete thought that he uses for these random thoughts.

We’ve talked about staying on topic, but since the “topic” is talking about the book, any thoughts to help show him that things like that technically aren’t on-topic even though they’re see in the book?  (Same issue with conversation.  He’ll add random comments, but usually no context will help to figure it out.)
My first thought was to model it somehow with comments that are on/off topic, but I don’t know where to start… Thanks!
Response:

Based on your brief notes, it seems like he doesn’t understand other’s perspectives.  Use the following books: Social Detective  and Thinking About You Thinking About Me or Social Thinking.  You need to start with the basics before you can address topic maintenance.

Once he understands how to be a social detective, I would work on identifying the difference between:
Topic-what the passage is about
Main idea-what the author wants you to know about the topic
Important details-the information that supports that main idea
Topic maintance will not be meaningful to him if he can not identify and understand the perspective of others.
On my caseload, we have several kids that have topic maintenance as a goal.  We have been using the “social detective” book and the first lesson in the “Social thinking” for 4 weeks. They are starting to learn the vocabulary (expected, unexpected, thought bubble, minds, bodies, eyes gaze) and identity the thoughts of their peers.  We also use video feedback to review expected and unexpected behaviors as well as the thought of their peers.
In your case, an unexpected behavior would be if the child says: “2010”.  If you are using the visual of minds and bodies are needed in the group, then his mind left the group.  Concrete visuals and repetition are needed for children to understand perspective taking skills.
Hope this helps!

Written by: mwirka

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