The quote in the title is from one of my very favorite movies, The Princess Bride (** translation: “And love, true love, will follow you forever….”). Being a speech therapist, this scene always tickles me. The theme of “love” is in the air as Valentine’s Day (also known as S.A.D.-singles awareness day) is approaching fast! I was in a meeting for a middle school student this week and the topic of “how to get a girlfriend” came up. He was very concerned that he was supposed to have one right this minute…but had absolutely no idea how to do this. A very caring group of teachers gently pointed out that he has plenty of time to build relationships, there is no need to hurry. This student has social language issues and really struggles with how to make friends and navigate the social world. He is acting out in class to gain attention, annoying his classmates and getting in trouble often. He had no idea that this is not the way to win friends, especially a girl friend.
These skills of how to build relationships (friendships and more) begin early in life. For our kids who struggle to read social cues and navigate the world with all of its hidden rules and indirect language, this is tricky. Social scenario practice is talking about what you would do in a particular circumstance (with different people and places). It’s a safe environment to make mistakes and ask questions that might make them vulnerable in the world outside of the therapy room. I talked about using Social skills autopsy a few weeks ago as a great way to go over what might have gone wrong and how we can change things next time. When they know they can take risks and talk through emotional topics, they relax and can begin to take in this new information. I encourage my kids to make their best guess, but also let them know that everyone makes mistakes and sometimes social situations don’t work out how we want them to, even when we do everything right.
We want to teach our kids the social communication skills of being able to think about not only their own perceptions in regards to their own thoughts and feelings, but how they make other people think and feel as well (Think Social by Michelle Garcia Winner has several lessons that align with the concept of making friends/building relationships). This is not a one shot lesson, it changes with age and setting, so we will have to adapt how we talk about relationships as they grow. I created this Cupid Question packet on TeachersPayTeachers with 20 social language questions for elementary or early middle schoolers, including lots of “what would you say or what would you do” questions. It also includes 20 blank cards for your students to come up with their own questions. You can use these with any board game, conversation time or during a social language lesson! They might just “love” you for this!