Puppies, Prediction and Cars…

puppy blog pic

I am a dog lover, so when puppy commercials come on TV, I get drawn in immediately. Subaru has a series of car commercials airing now that just suck me in. every. single. time.  They feature a family of Golden Retrievers (The Barkleys!) and their adventures in driving. There are no words in the commercials (duh, they are dogs) BUT they convey a message in each one very clearly. For my students with social language impairments, too much language muddies the processing waters, so these are perfect!  I have downloaded the series onto my social language Youtube channel playlists HERE .

Beyond the complete cuteness overload, they are fabulous tools to work on the social language concepts of predicting and inferencing for my students!  The eight commercials convey social scenarios (for example: the mom getting her hair done) and are great to use to identify emotions, prediction, point of view and humor, all in about thirty seconds. Don’t forget about expected and unexpected concepts too (a puppy in a car seat-whaaaat?). These would be great to use with Playposit (you can read my blog post on how to create your own therapy activity by embedding questions into video clips HERE ).

Do you use commercials to teach inferences or other social language concepts?  I love using Dorito’s Super Bowl ads  and kid’s movie previews!  Please share your favorites here!

Doritos in speech? Score!


Now before all the super neat and tidy speech therapists freak out, we aren’t going to eat Doritos in speech.  I know images of kids with orange faces and fingers (not to mention Dorito breath) might bring to mind your own personal vision of  “The Shining”, so relax.  What I am suggesting  is using the brilliant million dollar challenge “Crash the Super Bowl” commercials that Doritos sponsors each year.  These commercials are fantastic to use to teach and reinforce social language concepts such as expected/unexpected, prediction, inferences, think/say/feel, and main idea/gestalt thinking (all which align beautifully with Think Social lessons by Michelle Garcia Winner).The screaming goat winner from 2013 is still one of my favorites to use.  Inferences and prediction,subtitles, music and no spoken language makes this one great to view for social language!

As with all video clips, preview them first!   You can always use View Pure to filter out the annoying ads from youtube videos too (it’s awesome!).  I created this FREE (and you know we speechies like free stuff!) football themed activity sheet on TPT for “post game analysis” of social language in commercials here .  

The Big Game: Social Language in Commercials worksheet

Print it out and use it as a fun way to explore social language concepts!  You probably won’t get a huge trophy or a confetti shower, but your students just might think you are the best SLP ever!  I also have a board of social language videos that you can peruse HERE .

Here’s a list of some of the best 2015 entries to use (all kid friendly):

 Man-child  (great for unexpected/expected!)

Doritos Monster 

The Angler

Baby’s First Word

When Pigs Fly

Dog Dream

Kick off a great therapy session and please share any good commercials you have used lately here!

How to be socially connected.


doritos goat commercial

Finding materials to work on social language skills can be a bit tricky.   I love looking through Pinterest posts, teachers’ amazing blogs and seeing other therapists creative techniques in action.  The school system I work for is really trying to get ahead of the social language curve this year, especially with the changes to the DSM 5 criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder and the newly minted Social Communication Disorder.  The topic of discussion among many therapeutic and parent communities is that we now have SCD as a diagnosis which occurs in about 10% of the formerly diagnosed children with autism, and a bit higher in the population diagnosed with PDD-NOS.   However, there was not a lot of information regarding treatment guidelines for those meeting the SCD criteria.  While I am glad the medical community is considering the broader range of social communication impact (including add, tbi, non-verbal ld, and anxiety disorders), as a parent, I would be a bit frustrated to be handed this diagnostic information with no road map as to how to help my child develop their strengths and support their limitations!

Social language moves fast, and gets faster the older the child gets.  Learning how to read other people in real time is hard when you are trying to process personal space, spoken language (including sarcasm), non-verbal cues, intonation, eye contact, topic maintenance, joining a group, ending a conversation, asking connecting questions, using humor, mirroring body language of your peers and rules that change subtly across environments and without explicit rules (I can call my brother “dude” but not my teacher).  Did you even realize that we do all of that without really thinking about it, day in and day out?  No wonder our kids with ASD and SCD have a hard time navigating a social world.

A very bright high school student I worked with who was diagnosed with ASD (a former Aspergian), figured out if he could learn how the flow of a conversation went without the person actually being in front of him, that could work.  He started with online chat rooms (careful there) to understand the give and take of conversation.  When he felt comfortable with that, he practiced standing with people he felt safe with (family, teachers) and worked on his non-verbals, standing in a comfortable proximity, looking at the person he was talking to, and being aware of his anxiety levels in conversation before he became overwhelmed. He was a genius and it worked well for him.  Video modeling has also been helpful to show people how the social world works.  I am always cautious in showing negative examples as some of my students LOVE to model attention seeking behavior and/or don’t discern the difference between attention for positive and negative behaviors and the outcomes.

Commercials and movie clips work so well for these teachable moments, especially commercials without a lot of spoken language for inferences.  Wing Clips is a website that has short movie clips dealing with many social concepts, and is more appropriate for older students and adults.  My favorite commercials include Super Bowl winners such as the Dorito’s screaming goat from a few years back.  Sonic restaurant has some wonderful, short commercials for common sayings, misinterpretations and non-verbal cues.  There is a new TV show coming this fall titled “Selfie” which deals with a young woman learning how to relate to other people appropriately- social language gold!  And not to be missed is my old standby, Sheldon Cooper and The Big Bang Theory,  which facilitates great conversations about what works and why.   One last thought, before you share any social media lessons, PREVIEW IT FIRST.   You do not want your first social language lesson to involve calling parents to explain what you inadvertently taught their child in school today…been there, done that!