Yesterday I received these great questions from a new SLP about podcast #403 Teach Social Games First.
I started typing my reply, and then I thought I’d answer them here in case you’re wondering about these things too!
You mentioned you did the routine 5 or 6 times before taking a break. Is that for every child or does it depend? Also, is the 5 or 6 times with one song/rhyme/fingerplay or more than one?
You guessed it, the number of times I do a social routine is really child dependent! My point is that you’d never play the game once or twice and then stop. Kids need repetition to learn anything new and especially for something that’s hard for them.
If a child is having difficulty interacting with other people, then social games are usually new AND hard!
You’ll need to repeat the game often enough so that they begin to participate (or at least tolerate you “helping” them participate), recognize the game, and finally, hopefully, enjoy the game.
I’ve found that in the beginning if I repeat a game several times, a child is more likely to try to participate more quickly rather than playing the game once or twice this session, then once or twice in the next session, etc…
For the second part of your question, stick to one game until a child participates, recognizes, and likes that game, and then pick a new game and introduce it using the same method… repeat, repeat, repeat. When he’s learned two games, then alternate the games for a while, and then introduce the new game using the same method… repeat, repeat, repeat, and now you’re playing three games together.
How many social games should you start with? One, two, three? Does it depend on the student?
Like I mentioned in your first question, I introduce one game and play it for a while until a child participates, recognizes, and likes the game, and then I pick a new game and introduce it with the same method.
For some kids, I can teach 2 or 3 social games in one session and we stick to that for a few weeks to master those games gradually increasing what I expect for a child to begin “do his part.” For example, in a game like “Ring Around the Rosies,” the first step is for the child to fall down with me at the end of the game.
When do you suggest introducing another routine?
Introduce a new game when a child is happily participating in the first game. Sometimes it’s fast! It may happen within 10 minutes after I’ve played the first little game for a couple of “rounds” (5 or 6 times in a row with the same game) and the child keeps wanting more.
For some kids, it takes several sessions with one game and many, many, many repetitions before a child begins to respond.
many kids with language delays, even those with autism, respond pretty quickly and the results are soooo amazing that therapists and parents are elated.
Parents tell me they end up playing the same game over and over for days, but it’s because their child loves the game and they’ve all having a great time interacting and playing together.
They are especially motivated as they begin to teach their child NEW things to do and then finally, NEW THINGS TO SAY.
Many times, the first words we hear from a child, especially those with autism, is during a social game.
Next week, I’ll share some personal stories like that.
But you do not have to wait until then to get going with social games!
I have several resources for you to read below so that you too can have success with this method.
One more piece of advice….
DO NOT GIVE UP IF THIS DOESN’T WORK FOR YOU RIGHT AWAY!
Chances are, with a few tweaks to YOU (not your child!), you’ll begin to see success like…
More eye contact, giggles, smiles, and belly laughs
JOYFUL participation with you
Hints that a child recognizes the game – “a twinkle in his eye”
A child first attempts to “do his part” in the game such as uncovering his head for peek-a-boo on cue
More advanced participation in games like doing a few hand motions in games like clapping during “If You’re Happy and You Know It”
Initiation with favorite games such as pulling your hands to play “Ring Around the Rosies”
And then finally…
As they begin to “fill-in-the-blank” with expected and familiar words to complete lines during the game. For example, a child will begin to say “Go!” when you say, “Ready… Set…” and wait for them to fill in the word.
I’ll be honest, sometimes…. it feels like magic!