Teaching Kids to Differentiate when to Say, Think or Rephrase their Thoughts

Where is the line between being honest and direct and being just plain rude?

The ability to communicate well by articulating how you feel and what you think is invaluable. It's a life skill that most adults are still learning.

The challenge is how to say what you truly think but at the same time be mindful of how those words impact the people you're speaking with. In other words, how to balance your social-awareness with your need for self-expression.

A common activity that is done in Social Skills Groups especially for children with autism, is called:  "Think it" vs. "Say it." This is when kids learn how to differentiate between thoughts that they should say aloud and things that they should keep in their heads. After all, just because something is true, doesn't mean it should be said. 

Or should it? Who's to say?

Social skills are more nuanced and context dependent. So I like to add another option which is to "Rephrase it." You can do this activity by having the students take turns picking a statement and then deciding if they feel they would say it as written, keep it to themselves or think of a more considerate way to say it. 

It's fun because not all the students agree on everything and lively discussions or sometimes debates ensue. Remember, you are not there to correct them or convince them of anything. You are there to leverage the peer group to spark self-reflection for everyone.

This is the version I made for my students, but you can custom tailor your own!

As with all social skills there is no right or wrong answer. Let the rest of the group give that student feedback so the student can see how their statements land with their peers (the audience that counts the most!)

The last thing we want to teach our students-especially those who already have challenges communicating-is to keep everything in their head or that there is always a binary choice in how to act or respond. 

The key is giving children lots of opportunities to practice expressing themselves so they become more socially confident. 



Using Scripts to Teach Social Skills?

Categories: autism, communication, self-awareness, social skills, social skills group

 I'm a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and former Special Education Teacher dedicated to teaching kids the 21st Century Social Skills they need to live happier, healthier lives

Diana Cortese
Founder, Teach Social Skills