Social Skills Lesson Plan for Students with Autism

Instructor: Aimee Charles

Aimee has a Master's degree in Special Education from Arizona State University and currently teaches at the Secondary level.

For students with autism, basic social skills do not always come naturally. In this lesson plan, students will be exposed to examples of conversation starters and models of appropriate eye contact and topic choice. Students will have the opportunity to ask questions and have brief, but appropriate, conversations with peers.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Ask and answer conversational questions.
  • Maintain appropriate eye contact with others while speaking.
  • Establish similar interests.

Length

This lesson should take between 30-60 minutes, depending on the needs and number of students. The optional extension activities can add an additional 30-45 minutes.

Common Core Curriculum Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6-8.1

Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 6-8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.6-8.1

Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

Materials

  • Conversation starter cards
    • Prepare at least one card for each student in the class, plus a few extras for variation. Each card should contain a visual aid and a starter question. For example, a card may have a picture of animals and contain the question 'What kind of animals do you think make the best pet?'
  • Brown bag
  • Blank index cards
  • Crayons, colored pencils, markers

Vocabulary

  • Appropriate
  • Interests

Discussion and Model

  • Ask this question: What are important parts of a conversation?
  • Generate a list on the board using the ideas that students provide. If students struggle to come up with examples, skip to the model and revisit this question.
  • With a paraprofessional or classroom aide, model an appropriate dialogue. Be sure to use eye contact, stay on topic, and use a topic that highlights a mutual interest and matches your students age and ability level.
  • Ask students to provide feedback after watching the model. Add their comments to the list you started previously.
  • If students don't mention it, be certain to add eye-contact, appropriate topic, and shared interests to the list of conversation qualities. Discuss what these qualities look like and provide additional examples as needed.
  • Instruct students that good eye-contact is not constant as that can be overwhelming, but should be made frequently throughout conversation. Provide a direct example with each student, if needed.
  • Explain to students what makes a topic appropriate based on how well you know the person you are talking to and/or their interest in the topic.
  • Allow students to provide feedback about times when they have been bored during a conversation or topics that they do not like to talk about.

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