I was chatting with a colleague the other day about one of our favorite students. She is a fifth grader with high functioning ASD and she has come a long way in so many of her social communication skills! One area she continues to struggle in is giving too much information in conversation. She understood the steps to check in visually with the listener (non-verbals) and what she should do , but she continued to give way too much information day to day. I have a freebie on TPT to help with these beginning steps of determining how much information is too much or too little that she used very successfully (you can download it HERE). She could often recognize too much detail when other people did it, but like many of our students, she needed more support with her own self-monitoring.
Her SLP and I brainstormed a couple of ideas to try, including giving her a time constraint to share relevant information/responses. 15 seconds doesn’t sound very long, but it sure feels long if someone is rambling on and on without reaching a point. A visual timer was introduced, but the student got flustered trying to organize her thoughts to fit the time limit (hello executive function!). So her very smart SLP, Jaime, had her use a graphic organizer to put down her thoughts prior to the timed activity.
This was a great way to help her visually see the important pieces of information that she needed to include or the unimportant details that might bog her down (and she was more successful)! This graphic organizer idea goes along nicely with how schools often teach writing to our kids, a main idea, 3 supporting details and a concluding sentence, and is a framework to help our students learn to summarize and condense their thoughts. You could even give your students five tickets representing each part of the re-tell as visual support. Obviously, this is not something that will happen in natural conversation, however, we often have to break down the skill and practice from model towards independence. This is tricky for lots of our students on the spectrum, with ADD or with executive function weaknesses, so lots of practice in the therapy room AND in real time is essential (get mom and dad on board at home and the classroom teachers/peers using these strategies too for generalization).
Another idea I had was to give her a visual representation of information. Use a bag (like one from a party store) and put in objects to represent information on a topic. For example, a movie ticket, popcorn, an empty drink cup, a picture of the movie, all in the bag. Ask the student to decide if there is enough information/detail in the bag to understand what the topic is. Then explain that the bag is really our brain. You can put in one object (not enough) or lots of extraneous objects (representing off topic or unimportant details) to visually represent conversational responses.
You could also have your other students (artic monitoring anyone?) record short videos giving examples of conversational responses and have your student identify if it’s too much, not enough or just the right amount of information. If the example has too much information, see if the student can identify which comments were extraneous or redundant to make it a little harder. To further extend this idea, your students working on this skill might enjoy making their own cartoons and they can record the responses using Toontastic, a free app on itunes. This is great for feedback when discussing if they gave the right amount of information to a new listener.
How do you help your students give responses with just the right amount of information? Share here!