There seem to be plenty of resources for elementary students. But social skills resources for middle schoolers with autism are harder to come by. As they get older, autistic students tend to need resources with fewer visuals. They also need material that addresses gray areas like sarcasm and body language. It took some time for me to find what resources worked best for my students, but now that I have, I want to share them with you! I have put together a list of resources that I use with my autistic students below, and an autism account that has helped me grow.
My Personal Resources
Active listening is concentrating on what is being said rather than just hearing it. This is a great skill to work on with autistic students! This lesson helps students identify what active listening is, what it looks like, and why it’s important. Once they have an understanding, students practice active listening skills in a speed-dating style with the help of a handout. It’s easy to set up and implement and gets them moving! You can find this lesson in my TpT store.
This lesson is also available in my TpT store. It includes an introduction PowerPoint and whole group activity. The PowerPoint includes 5 slides, each featuring a different shoe. Students have to guess who would be wearing the shoe, where they would be going, what they might like to do, etc. For the group activity, each student chooses an emotion from a bucket and has to think of a time they felt that way. If they have trouble thinking of something, they can make up a story, but I always encourage them to use a real experience. When they are ready, they take turns telling their story to the class but must leave out the emotion. This gives the other students a chance to practice perspective-taking by trying to guess how they might be feeling.
Anything from Social Thinking is gold in my opinion. They have many social skills resources intended for students with autism, and my students always grasp the concepts quickly and easily. All of their resources also build off of each other, so I can start with a lower-level resource and continue to the next level when my students are ready. Below are some of my favorites.
Superflex is a very visual curriculum. It’s about an average kid who becomes a superhero and defeats different characters to keep Social Town safe. Each character represents a different skill and requires different strategies to be defeated. I typically start using this curriculum in 2nd or 3rd grade and sometimes continue through middle school, depending on the student. There are 2 main books to get you started and many additional resources for support and extra practice. The additional materials make it easy to address almost any social skill students might need help with.
This curriculum has fewer pictures than Superflex and focuses more on problem-solving. It includes realistic scenarios and think sheets that help students reach a deeper level of thinking when considering others.
I love this game because it includes relatable scenarios and can last multiple sessions. It comes with a scale and 2 decks of cards – one with challenges and one with prompts. The scale consists of 5 numbers, defining 5 different categories of behavior: behaviors that cause good thoughts, behaviors that are ok, behaviors that are weird, behaviors that are annoying, and behaviors that are against the rules. Each turn students vote on which category they believe the behavior would fall into. There is plenty of room for discussion, helping students really think through how their actions can impact others. Because this is also marked for high school, be sure to read through all cards first. Some are inappropriate for middle school.
Executive Functioning Resources
All of us use executive functioning skills in our daily lives. They make it possible for us to achieve our goals and life success. Many of these skills are needed in social situations like flexibility, self-control, and sustained attention. They are also needed when interacting with others in the real world. Because preparing for high school is such a huge focus in middle school, it is the perfect time to focus on these skills.
- Resources From Pathway 2 Success on TpT
Pathway 2 Success has many executive functioning resources to pick from, for many different ages. I have found this especially helpful because sometimes I might be working with an older student who is lower functioning. With the different options offered, it’s easy for me to find the level I need. One of my favorite resources from this store is the executive functioning task cards. I prefer to use the set for little learners with students who are lower functioning and the 5th-8th set with students who are higher functioning.
- Executive FUNctioning Series by Bryan Smith
Bryan Smith is an elementary school counselor. He has a great collection of books called the Executive FUNctioning series. There are 10 books, each focusing on a different executive functioning skill. His books are easy to read, relatable, and a nice fit for middle school students with autism.
Interactive books also referred to as adapted books, are used for students with lower literacy levels. They usually consist of 10-12 pages featuring short statements about a particular topic or theme. Some include more information and may read like a social story. Each page has a corresponding visual for the student to find and attach with Velcro. Adapted books are great for autistic students because they are easy to read and follow, and include specific visuals.
Stephanie DeLussey from Mrs. D’s Corner has many unique adapted books. She has books with hard-to-find topics, and most sets include different levels of difficulty.
Pam from Mrs Ps Specialties has a wide selection of adapted books as well, specifically for life skills.
- The Autism Helper Podcast & Instagram Account
Sasha Long is a former special education teacher and board certified behavior analyst (BCBA). She is a great resource for all things autism and behavior, and I have found her podcast very helpful. She also has some great content on Instagram and a great behavior course.
It can be difficult to find social skills resources for middle school students with autism, so I hope this list was helpful!