I facilitate group discussions with both parents and middle school aged kids on the spectrum. We work on learning how to construct comic strip conversations. Comic strip conversations get to the intention behind behaviors. They also help to extrapolate information verbal discussion would not decipher. The social context, the behavior, the thought/intent behind the behavior, and the feelings involved are all communicated with the use of stick figures, speech, thought bubbles, and colors representing feelings.
Social context refers to the place where something occurs. For example, in order to teach a skill (behavior), specifics need to be identified. Dinner behavior at the family supper table, for example, is probably different than if you were dining in a fine restaurant. You may not ask that napkins be placed on the lap at home, but in a restaurant, this may be another story. The context, however, in each situation needs to be identified and specified.
In our group, we learn to be able to determine more specific details of various occurrences that are otherwise vague. We turn scenarios into something tangible so that communication becomes concrete. How, after all, do you turn feelings into something concrete?
One individual in particular, gets in trouble for annoying his teachers because he consistently corrects mistakes made while the teacher is writing on the board. Now, I have to admit, this makes me smile, but I am not the teacher in a class of twenty plus students while being interrupted because a child is correcting me.
Our discussion looked something like this:
Creative ways of communicating seem to work. So, why not use them? Comic strip conversations assist to clear up miscommunication and clarify possible outcomes and most importantly, can be utilized during teachable moments of social situations.
“Comic Strip Conversations“, by Carol Gray is a great resource if you would like to learn more about this.