Using Conversation Scripts for Students with Autism

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

As a teacher who works with students who have autism, you might be looking for ways to help them develop social and conversational skills. This lesson gives you some ideas for using conversation scripts with students with autism.

Teaching Conversation Skills

Are you a teacher who works with students with autism, either in an inclusive or self-contained educational setting? Teaching students with autism can be challenging but also incredibly rewarding. You're sure to learn from working with these students while making a big difference in their lives.

One of your jobs as a teacher of students with autism is helping them develop their social skills, or capacity for interacting with others in appropriate and meaningful ways. Many students with autism do not intuitively grasp social cues, so you might need to do explicit instruction.

This lesson teaches you about using conversation scripts, or explicit, predetermined conversational language, to help your students with their interactions and relationships.

What a Conversation Script Is

Gina is a teacher who works with middle school aged students with autism in a self-contained setting. She has noticed that her students are really gaining in their academic skills, but they still often struggle in social situations.

Gina learns about conversation scripts as a way to help her students. A conversation script is written like a short skit or play, with lines for each participant. The lines are very clear and specific, but they mimic the tone of a natural conversation.

For instance, a basic conversation script will guide readers through small talk, like asking how the other person is doing or even asking about their friends and family. The script will also include brief sample answers from the interlocutor, the other participant in the conversation.

Gina knows that she can write or find conversation scripts related to other, more specific topics, including school, sports, the weather or clothes shopping. She tries to use conversation scripts for situations she knows her students are likely to be in.

Why Conversations Scripts Work

At first, Gina finds conversation scripts difficult to work with, because the language seems a bit unnatural and overly planned. However, as she observes her students using conversation scripts, she comes to see many different reasons why they are beneficial instructional aids for her students.

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