Beyond Ms. Manners' Preferences: Improving Social Behavior Patterns
Text only version of poster session presented at AER International Conference in Atlanta, July, 1998
Most social skills interventions in schools today are actually manners training.
Many children with visual impairments can benefit from the development of better manners. But the majority need concrete and direct instruction in appropriate social interaction in very basic areas such as:
greeting other people
looking like they are paying attention
looking like they are being respectful
maintaining an appropriate conversation
controlling one's own mannerisms
respecting another person's personal space
An underlying principle: There are no "bad" behaviors. All behavior is useful...in the right context. Some behaviors are not socially acceptable.
Behavior must be controlled before social skills can truly be developed.
Minimize behaviors before considering their elimination.
Work on one inappropriate behavior at a time
Practice the desired behavior, ignoring other undesired behaviors, if possible and feasible
First: You must have compliance
Teach children to listen and comply with your commands.
Break down expected behavior into parts: e.g. Pay attention=1) look at me, 2) listen to me, 3) do what I ask.
Give positive directions: Tell the child what you want him to do, not what you want him not to do.
Train the child to listen for your commands. Let’s assume the child’s name is Joe. Use very simple one or two word commands such as:
"Joe, come here." "Joe, stop." "Joe sit down." (Not: "Don't you think it would be good idea if you stopped that" or "You know you're not supposed to do that".)
Give the command "Joe, come here." (Your tone should say: Hear me, do this, I expect it)
As soon as he lifts or turns his head showing he heard you, give him a stroke: "Yeah, good, Joe, I said come here" (Your tone should denote correction)
a. Brag on his hearing you and complying "That's good Joe." (Your tone here is one of praise-bragging on him)
b. If he does not comply, move to him, get his attention, give the command again, make him do what you said, don't drag him— expect it.
Get him in the habit of responding to commands. Don't tell him what he shouldn't be doing. Then you can intervene at potential problem times and say "Now, Joe, come over here and __________." (not as a punishment but as a redirection.) When he has learned to respond to your commands he will be more cooperative and you will be not have to nag or fuss (since that doesn't work anyway).
General Guidelines for Helping Students Change Behaviors
Don't say "don't"
Give positive commands for the behaviors you are seeking. "Do this", then redirect to an appropriate activity.
Set written limits and expectations
Allow children to experience the consequences of their decisions
Teach self-control and self-monitoring
Self-Control Monitoring Form with Teacher Input
(A Generic Model used at Diamond MInds School)
____Right now, I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. Time___________
____Right now, I am controlling my behavior. Time ___________
____Right now, I am controlling my my voice. Time ___________
Children with visual impairment often have trouble making friends because:
no eye contact
talk only about themselves
talk about only one topic; at cross purposes
unaware of what different voice tones mean
make too many demands on others
unresponsive to others
socially inappropriate behaviors
Create opportunities for practice of appropriate behaviors and social skills
Provide verbal models of what is going on in peer interaction
Describe social relationships
Teacher taught and peer practiced social skills training works better than taped or teacher taught instruction alone
Teacher/Parent still needed for support and direction
Teaching Social Skills to Children with Visual Impairment
(Just a few ideas)
Find other visually impaired children for them to play/socialize with for some of the time.
Arrange the best quality of social interaction for your child. They need very good models. It is not sufficient to mix visually impaired children and sighted children and expect their social skills to develop. Arrange for successful social encounters.
Listening to tapes and role playing is of only minimal help in teaching a child good social skills. The most effective is training with input from the visually impaired student, given by the teacher and reinforced by peers.
Practice scenarios similar to what happens at school, at home, at church, and other parts of the community. Set up successful play experiences at home.
Model positive self-talk. Think out loud. For example, "Gee, it's hard for me to wait, but if I can, people won't get mad and I'll have a better time".
Use mealtimes to practice conversation skills and manners