To download the PDFs for these worksheets, click on the red link below:
Many children with Asperger’s and other autism spectrum disorders are quite fond of fantasy characters. Social skill teaching interventions which employ fantasy characters can tap into these predilections, increase insight and sustain interest in the social skills teaching work.
In March 2013, I gave an all-day workshop in Seattle, “Harnessing Fantasy and Fascination to Promote Social Skills Learning in Children with High-Functioning Autism.” Based on feedback I received from participants during this presentation, I decided to create a series of structured drawing worksheets to help children in the process of identifying problems and beginning to work on solutions. You will find the downloads for these worksheets below. (The worksheets above are examples I created using kid art I found on the internet.)
Part 1 in this blog series examined a social skills fantasy character system devised by Social Thinking, and also another set of resources devised by me and Rebecca Klaw, the Ryuu dragons. Please read Part 1 by following this link HERE.
Why bother to incorporate imagination and art into social skills work with kids on the spectrum?
1. Children with ASD lose stamina in social skills work if we don’t lighten it up a little. Think about it. Many are in for years of listening to people like us scrutinize and edify them.
2. Children with Asperger’s and other autism spectrum disorders very often have a special fondness for fantasy worlds.
3. Children with ASD often do much better identifying problems if we employ a strategic, indirect approach to it. If you ask a child on the spectrum, “Are there ever any problems with changes or dealing with new schedules and routines?”, the child might answer “No, not really.” But if you show the same child a picture of Rock Brain (from Social Thinking) or Rigidity (a Ryuu character), and ask, “Do these characters ever cause any problems for you?”, you will very often get a completely different answer.
Drawing worksheets, based on fantasy characters, to explore social skills challenges in kids with ASD
Start by introducing social skills fantasy character kits such as the two introduced in Part 1 of this blog series.
Then, to introduce the drawing activity, you can try using language like this:
“No one is perfect. Almost everyone has lots of problems. There is a very important kind of smartness called “insight.” That means, you are able to look inside yourself to see what things you are good at and also what things are hard for you. People who have lots of “insight” are especially good at noticing what problems they have.
I wonder which of you kids is going to be good at knowing what your problems are?
To find out, we are going to do a fun and challenging drawing activity. There are two different ways to do it.
The first way is to pick out an Unthinkable character or a Ryuu Dark Force character that seems to be like you in some ways. Draw it, and describe how this Unthinkable or Dark Force character affects you. The second way to do this drawing activity is to invent your own Dark Force and Light Force character.”
The worksheets are are designed to be completed in pairs, with a “Light Force” opposing a “Dark Force”
You can suggest these possible categories below before the kids start inventing and drawing.
1. Dealing with anger
2. Dealing with worries
3. Dealing with sadness
4. Calming down your body. This could cover hyperactivity, or else finding appropriate places and times to stim.
5. Getting along with others. This could cover cooperation, conflict avoidance, concern for others, friendship skills.
6. Spending too much time alone
7. Trouble being organized
8. Talking too loud or too soft
9. Talking too much about what YOU like
How to print out the worksheets:
Click on the red PDF link at the top of this blog post.
Let me know how this activity goes for you.
If you are able to email me any pictures, that would be great too:
joelshaul (at) gmail.com
Joel Shaul, LCSW