The Goldilocks Principle

GoldilocksI had the rare opportunity last week to actually sit down and eat lunch with two of my favorite SLPs I work with, and we problem solved about different communication challenges that our students are struggling with (we SLPs know how to have a good time, don’t we?!).  One topic that seems to come up over and over again is helping students (and sometimes adults) find a balance in conversation between too much information and too little information.  You know, the kinds of conversation when you ask an innocent question and the person goes on and on for ten minutes telling you EVERYTHING they know about that topic?  Or how about the sound of crickets chirping when you ask another person the same question, and you get a one word response? How can we help them find the right amount of information to share-not too much, not too little, just right?

This is a pretty high level skill, so make sure you are addressing the foundational pieces first:

  • how to read non-verbal clues (facial expression, body language)
  • asking a question versus making a comment
  • turn taking in conversation
  • judging the right time to ask or respond to questions
  • tone of voice
  • context (does the other person know what I am talking about?  Do I need to give them some clues?)
  • asking for clarification if you don’t understand what the person is asking you
  • orienting my body towards the listener/speaker and looking at them to monitor their responses

I created this free visual on TeachersPayTeachers to help your students here: how much information is enough?  It’s in a PDF format, so you can print it without using Boardmaker.  It would make a fantastic poster for a classroom or to use as a visual to create a lesson for your students!  This is not just a special education or ASD issue by the way, conversational competency is critical for ALL of our students and strong oral communication is a life skill.

What have you tried when teaching students to gauge how much is enough?

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