Social Smarts helps all children improve their social relations and communication skills. It is especially helpful for children who tend to misread social cues, including those who have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome or are at any other position on the Autism Spectrum.
Social skills and communication are two of the five dimensions measured by the AQ (Autism Spectrum Quotient) assessment instrument (Baron-Cohen et al 2001).
Social Smarts offers players a fun way to learn about the thought choices they have when communicating with friends, parents, and teachers. It is helpful for young people to understand that they are in control of their thinking and to see and hear the difference between “Smart Thinking” and “Not-So-Smart Thinking.” Smart Thinking promotes positive communication and understanding of the social rules that encourage positive relationships. The game uses specific concrete examples to promote flexible thinking and discourage rigid thinking.
Although some children naturally have better social and communication skills than others, all children can improve their skills in these areas. Social Smarts is a matching game where players turn over cards to match the name of the Thinker (a fictitious student) with a matching Thought. Bonus Cards ask players to discuss the consequences of putting the thought into action or to relate the thought to their own experiences.
There are multiple levels of play in order to make the game fun and challenging for players in grades 2-6 (or older for special needs students). Facilitators have options of (1) using the Bonus Cards, (2) varying the number of cards put out to match, and (3) replacing the cards as they are matched and taken off the playing area.
- understand better the differences between appropriate and inappropriate social thought and communication by comparing and contrasting the examples in the game;
- learn pro-social thought and communication skills by modeling the positive examples in the game;
- contrast the specific examples in the game with their own thoughts and behaviors, and discuss ways to improve their skills;
- improve their level of comfort in a variety of social situations, and
- improve their social skills both in reacting to others and initiating their own communications.