Guest Author - Bonnie Sayers
Conversation Cues is one of the DVD's in the series of Videos for Modeling Social Skills by Model Me Kids. The cost is $29.95 plus $5.95 shipping in US and Canada. This DVD runs for 68 minutes, but during this time the whole series of lessons is repeated without narration.
This is specifically geared for children in the Upper Elementary through High school years and for those with autism, asperger syndrome, PDD-NOS, nonverbal learning disorders, social anxiety, learning disabilities and delays.
These are real children in both a school setting and out in community environments demonstrating various conversation cues for the viewer to take note of. This is done with plain blue bacground on the screen between segments. There is a variety of children in stages of conversations displaying the right and wrong ways to carry on a conversation and to follow the cues of other people.
Conversation Cues starts off with all the kids and their names and the teacher. For each lesson a student introduces the theme and explains what the viewer will be seeing. Once the demonstrations are over they take the viewer through the steps with a re-enactment of the scene. They also showcase with arrows and text on the screen the key phrases of the cue lesson. These focus on watching for body language, noticing how they are sitting and which way they are facing. Also to wait for a pause, ask a question, nod in agreement and how their face looks when talking.
There is a lot of repetition through the lessons making sure the rule has been taught before moving onto the next task at hand. There are twelve segments that run between thirty seconds to two minutes. The children narrate during the lesson in a monotone voice. The key with this DVD is not in the voice recognition but in their facial movements and body language cues.
The lessons cover:
When to start conversation
Cue: Not Interested
How to Start Conversation
Talk on Topic
Each lesson has three to four examples. They mentioned two to three sentences maximum for staying on a topic and not to monopolize the conversation. The DVD emphasized many times to ask a question as a way to handle conversations. They had some staged conversations outside near a basketball court where the kids talked about their spring break plans. It did seem odd that they were wearing heavy coats indicating that spring break was not occurring for awhile. They were at a food court location having lunch and talking about various things. The topic of frog dissection did not seem to be apprioriate for that setting and could have been pursued further during this lesson.
Nicholas thought it was very boring hearing people carrying on a conversation. The topics were interesting keeping the conversation in order of how you keep the conversation flowing. He felt it was very childish and was not needed for him to know how to carry on a conversation since it is not that that hard to have one.
I felt it was a good visual tool for a group setting and younger kids to see how their peers model conversation techniques and to learn various cues. It was better presented in this fashion with the children doing the narration along with the key phrases learned in each segment.
You can obtain sample lesson plans and worksheets based on the videos at www.modelmekids.com. This is a good teaching tool for therapists, teachers and other professionals to learn how to teach step by step techniques to children on the autism spectrum. This is not a fast paced instruction tool and uses repetition to emphasize the skills. They also mentioned that lunch time is when you can talk freely, yet through out the Elementary school my son attended they were not allowed to talk during lunch and were in trouble if they did.
Many of the examples were in the classroom setting with two or three students engaged in a conversation. You would then see someone approach and the students would shift their eyes or move their body away or towards the person. These were the cues on the storyboard after scenes pinpointing these visuals to be aware of if you were boring or interrupting other people.
The children were age appropriate for Conversation Cues, but there was very limited adult interaction, which would have been a welcome addition to see how kids enter the school office setting or how they deal with assemblies.
Once the lesson plans are over they are repeated without the narration so that therapists and/or other professionals can customize the scenes with their own discussions. Considering the cost of software marketed to families in relation to social skills and autism spectrum disorders, this is a decent price for Conversation Cues This also comes with a bonus photo CD-Rom.
Educational Autism Tips for Families 71 page resourceful ebook for families entering the school system with a recent autism diagnosis. Find out what issues take place over the course of a school day and meet these challenges head on.