When I taught in a self-contained classroom for autistic children, one of the speech therapist introduced me to Matt and Molly stories. These are officially called, Autism & PDD Picture Stories & Language Activities by Patricia Koski. This article reviews the 5-pack set of language activities for social skills for children ages 3 to 8.
Overview of Autism & PDD Language Activities for Social Skills
This social skills set covers skills at home, with the family, with friends, in the community, and at school. Each story includes 4 pictures and a teacher script for each picture. The stories present a situation, usually show 2 wrong responses, and then a correct response at the end. The lesson book includes a 2-day lesson plan for each story. Language and comprehension questions are also included. A reproducible homework sheet can be used for reviewing each story.
Benefits Autism & PDD Language Activities for Social Skills
My kids absolutely love these Matt and Molly stories (the two main characters). They find the stories hilarious and request them as part of our nightly bedtime routine. The children are learning various social skills and are working on their language skills as we go through the stories. We have been reading them and answering the included questions orally.
Limitations Autism & PDD Language Activities for Social Skills
These stories do include some non-examples. CLICK HERE to read more about the potential problems of using non-examples with some autistic children. For the most part, the included non-examples were not a problem for my children. The specific non-examples that were a problem for my children include:
- Standing in front of the TV when someone is trying to watch it.
- Kicking the dentist (even though they know this is wrong, they insisted it was right as they hate going to the dentist).
Different philosophy than the author
My own philosophies on choices differ a little from those presented by the author. For example, in the social skills with family series, the children are taught that if the uncle wants a high five, then the right way to respond is to give him a high five. I teach my children that if they are not comfortable with physical contact (high fives, hugs, etc.), that is perfectly okay and that they can just say, “No thank you” or “Not right now.”
I also have a different approach from the author in regards to sensory related sensitivities. After spending some time reviewing autistic adult perspectives from posted videos and interacting with the autistic adult community online, my perspective is one of providing accommodations rather than expecting a child to just deal with the sensory overload. CLICK HERE to read more about a sensory processing disorder that can result in sensory related sensitivities. There were a couple of stories in the series that presented sensory situations.
Use of a blow dryer
In one story from Social Skills at Home, Molly did not want to have her hair blow dried. The children are taught that she needs her hair blow dried and Molly used a calming strategy to get through it. When I read this story with my children, we talked about what Molly could do if the blow dryer really bothered her (ask to have her hair towel dried or let it air dry instead).
A hair cut using an electric buzzer
In a story from Social Skills in the Community, Matt goes to the barber. He does not want to have his hair cut with the buzzer. At the end, he uses a calming strategy to get through it. The electric buzzer for cutting hair could pose sensory overload for some children with the noise and vibrations. When I read this story with my children, we talked about other options (e.g. using scissors instead) and that Matt should tell his mom what the noise bothers him.
I do recommend this social skill series by Patricia Koski. My children are highly entertained by the short stories and love the Matt and Molly characters. The short stories hold their attention completely. Learning about and discussing social situations have become highly motivating for my children through these stories. As we discuss the stories, I am easily able to talk about other options (which may differ from what is taught in the story) that would help them in the situations presented.
Where to Buy Autism & PDD Language Activities for Social Skills
As far as I know, this set is only available from Linguisystems (not an affiliate link). This social skills series can be bought as a complete set or individually.