In working with students on the spectrum (and I also include my kiddos with attention challenges, LD, EBD and all the other alphabet soups that are part of people), one of the areas we seem to bump into over and over again is the idea of respect. Respect is simply treating others the way you would want to be treated. People work together often in school, at home, in communities and at work, and respect is the key to doing this successfully! The topic of respect can open up discussions about feelings and situations that can take you down some pretty involved roads. I often think our speech therapist identities are part counselor, part teacher and part researcher (with a dash of comedian/mad scientist/referee thrown in)! While it may veer off the lesson plan, sometimes the most wonderful therapy sessions come from these teachable moments!
One of the important concepts to help students understand the idea of respect is talking about who, what, where and when. While there are several ways that we treat people the same when it comes to respect (tone of voice, using kind words, listening what is being said before responding), there are also clues that help us figure out how we treat people differently. I have noticed that what often appears as disrespect from students is not necessarily just naughty behavior. If a child doesn’t understand the hierarchy of relationships and thinks that everyone is their peer, their responses to unfamiliar adults or teachers may come across as rude or disrespectful (or sassy if you are from the south). Talking about the rules of relationship and the use of visuals can help them get a better understanding of how people think about other people. Visuals,such as a target, are helpful to talk about relationships between the child and other people in their life( like this one I created as part of a five page mini-lesson/activity here at TPT ). This is hard for many students, especially those with ASD. Respect goes way beyond just the words that are said! Other facets of respect include:
- volume of your voice (too loud or too quiet) * Decibella from Julia Cook is a great teaching tool for this concept!
- personal space (too close or too far away)
- tone of voice (do you sound mad or frustrated?)
- gestures (arms crossed, eye rolls, pointing fingers)
- timing (can you interrupt someone or should you wait?)
- people (do I talk to my friends the same way I talk to my bus driver?)
- things and places-important to show respect to these as well
There are many video clips to illustrate the concept of respect. While I have an abiding love for Disney, I have noticed that most of their kids programming demonstrate significant disrespect to adults from kids (I am talking to you Zack and Cody) and offer lots of teachable moments. If your kids get stuck on the words people are saying, turn the sound off of the video and have them watch all the non-verbal clues that are going on!
Keep calm and respect on! Share your ideas on respect here…