Children with Asperger’s and other autism spectrum disorders often love trains. I spent about a year photographing and photoshopping trains in order to create The Conversation Train, a kit of materials designed to harness interest in trains to teach some important conversation skills. Below, I provide you with a series of panels you can use as lesson prompts or as a cool wall display.
The meaning of different parts of a train in reference to conversation:
When explaining The Conversation Train, you can use words like this:
“The locomotive, or engine, is the first part of the train. Without it, the train cannot go. When you start talking to someone, the “Hello” and “Hi” part helps start your conversation.”
“The tender, or coal car, comes next. This carries the coal that gives the train power. Saying “How are you” or “How’s it going” gives your conversation power.”
“Each train car is like a conversation turn. A conversation turn happens every time two people talk back and forth.”
“The switch track is like when people switch from talking about one thing to talking about another thing. When you switch to a new topic, you have to do it right.”
“The off-track train car is like when somebody switches to a topic that the other person does not even care about.”
“The caboose is like the end of the conversation. You have to end it the right way, not just stop talking or walk away.”
(Here is a Youtube video on The Conversation Train: http://bit.ly/Ih90YW About halfway into the video, I explain all this as if I am talking to a child.)
How to print out the Conversation Train panels:
Click on each image. Wait a moment for it to open in another window. Print.
(The LOCOMOTIVE appears out of order in the download sequence.)
I hope you enjoy the train pictures, as well as this handy set of metaphors to help kids with autism learn some conversation basics.