Learn how one Arizona speech language pathologist is using a technology platform to teach social learning to students with autism and pragmatic language disorders, like these smiling students in class.

6 reasons to use a social learning platform

Learn how one Arizona speech language pathologist is using a technology platform to teach social learning to students with autism and pragmatic language disorders

There are several different curriculums available to teachers who are working with students who have pragmatic language disorders, but up until recently I hadn’t really found one that was flexible and personalized for my students. Working with autistic and mildly intellectually impaired students (“eligibilities”), I’m always on the lookout for educational resources that incorporate different learning resources and functionalities.

Unfortunately, I usually come up short. That’s because most of the available curriculum is too structured and stringent. I’ve worked with a number of different psychologists and school counselors who like to stick to the books, which are extremely linear in nature. Instead, I really like to be able to pick and choose the skills that I think a specific student (or, a group of students) needs at a certain time in the school year, versus simply following a curriculum page by page.

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When I learned about Everyday Speech’s Social-Emotional Learning Curriculum, I was instantly interested. Incorporating video modeling—an evidence-based strategy using video recordings to model a desired skill—the platform teaches social competencies that help students adjust to school, cope with the ever-changing social environment, navigate their emotions, and make informed social decisions to solve problems.

6 reasons to implement a social learning platform

Here’s how the platform helps my students achieve their educational and social-emotional learning goals:

1. It leans on videos, games, and activities. I love this aspect of the platform. In fact, before I started using Everyday Speech I would go on YouTube to find funny videos to use with my therapy groups. I found a bunch of videos another Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) put together that incorporated about 50 different social skills. That really spoke to my teaching style versus just working skills sequentially week after week after week.

2. It supports those videos with reviews and follow-ups. For example, having a discussion without any visuals basically loses the student’s interest within five seconds, and it also doesn’t incorporate much language for a group that’s already challenged in that area. With this new platform, I have a lot of videos to choose from and can then reinforce the learning with follow-up activities and reviews. That’s exactly my style.

3. It teaches everyday skills. I want my students to be able to pick up speedy skills and actions and learn them as best as they can. Ideally, they’ll be able to then practice and take those skills into school and into their everyday lives. With this system, they can take what they learn into life then eventually really hone in on those social skills with others. This helps them feel more successful with their peers and with their teachers and helps them be less “confused” when it comes to social skills and interactions with other students they interact with.

4. It’s good for all ages. I’ve used the curriculum with students in second grade and up. With the younger students, I still stick to literacy-based curriculum or play-based social learning. However, Everyday Speech is very applicable with third grade students all the way up through high school seniors.

5. You can use it every day. As its name implies, the curriculum is great for everyday use. It’s very easy to pull up the search bar, key in a social skill, and find the content that you’re looking for. I also receive a weekly email that shows me what’s new or what materials I can use, which is great because it keeps me in the know.

6. It keeps students engaged. My students tend to get bored easily, and this curriculum really helps to stave that off. It also helps with comprehension around specific social discussions—something that tends to be confusing for students with autism or pragmatic language disorders. For education on social skills to resonate, they need to be able to “see” it and the learning has to be in the moment. Being able to see the skills firsthand, and then being able to discuss them, has saved my students from being confused and uninterested.

To other speech language pathologists who want to infuse this dynamic content into their therapy groups, my best piece of advice is to start with just five or six skills that your students are really struggling with. Don’t be afraid to narrow it down and start experimenting with the platform’s many different pieces of interactive content. Knowing how difficult it can be to teach social skills, it’s always great to see my students make progress after viewing videos, playing games, and doing the reviews.

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