Awesome Social Skill Building Links to Engage Your Teens

Awesome Social Skill Building Links to Engage Your Teens in Speech Therapy

Good teen social skills are very important for success. The longer I worked with teens on the autism spectrum and with emotional disabilities, the more I realized this. Weak social language/pragmatic skills play a major role in teens’ inability to function in a mainstream environment.

teen social skills, speech therapy, free download

While these skills are important for both disabilities, the way they impacted my students differed.

Emotionally Disturbed Students

My emotionally disturbed students tended to flare up easily.  They misunderstood idiomatic language and inferences their peers made.  They misread body language cues, facial expressions, and gestures.  Meanwhile, they also interpreted situations as more negative and more directly focused toward themselves than they actually were.

Sometimes they were correct in reading the social situation as negative. But then, they didn’t have the language skills needed to work out compromises and negotiate solutions peaceably. They often understood basic emotions but lacked the nuances and vocabulary for sophisticated emotions. This hampered their ability to regulate their emotional reactions using language.

For example, if you only label emotions as happy or angry, how do you use self-talk to decide that what happened was aggravating, but not worth getting in more trouble over? In reality, it may not be this simple. However, the language for emotions does play a role in the big picture.

Research shows that the majority of students with emotional disorders also have social language difficulties. Because of difficult behaviors and noncompliance that masked the problems, these students were never identified as having a language dsorder.  Food for thought.

Students with Autism

Students on the autism spectrum may not even realize that non-verbal communication exists. They may have poor eye contact, so they spend less time looking at facial expressions to begin with.

Often students with autism interpret the language they hear very literally. They also misunderstand the facial expressions, gestures and body language people use to communicate. So, it is not surprising that many students would rather live in their comfortable space with their preferred topics. So much of what goes on around them is so confusing!

You Can Use the Same Materials

The materials for building emotion vocabulary and teen social skills are the same, no matter what the disability is.  Differentiation occurs in choosing which specific materials to use.  Student vocabulary levels and cognitive skills/maturity help you decide.  Then the follow-up activities for applying the skills can vary widely. For example, my ED students enjoyed role-playing activities much more than my ASD students did.

It helps to have a variety of options to better meet individual needs. These resource links are so helpful that I wanted to share them with you.  So be sure to let your friends know about this post, too!

These links are helpful for older students (middle/high) depending on their level. Check out this post for fun ideas for younger students.

Free Resource Links

Senteacher social resources

My older students responded really well to these facial expressions. There are so many activities to choose from on this website. There are also different types of printables, so check it out.

MES Feelings Flashcards

The amount of materials shared for free on this website is amazing. (Although donations are gladly accepted.)

Be sure to check out the game website, too!

Emotions Word Bank

These resources are great for teaching vocabulary for nuances of emotions. Materials here also show that we can feel combinations of emotions and that they vary in intensity. There are free resources for varied language skills on this site, too!

Social Skills List

This website was made for middle school level but is appropriate for many special needs high school students, too. There are a variety of lesson plans and online activities that address many areas of teen social skill needs.

Make Beliefs Comix

Comic strips are a great therapy tool for teen social skills. There are many language skills that can be worked on using comics, too. This makes them useful for mixed groups.

This site is my favorite for creating comics. It is easy to use and has lots of options. Let your students decide on the problem and choose the appropriate characters.  They can use their new vocabulary in the speech bubble dialogues.

Teen Social Inferences and Problem Solving Free Unit 

free printables, teen social skills

Engage your students while putting many teen social skills to use in real-life problem scenarios. This free unit is helpful whether you are in a classroom or running social skills groups, so be sure to download it for free!

If you love it, kind feedback is always appreciated as a thank you!

For links to use with younger students, check out this post.

Free resource links, teen social skills

Do you love this clip art as I do? Then check out this fun, interactive resource on nonverbal communication skills for teens. The preview is free!

If I missed any great resources, I’d love it if you would share your faves in the comments!


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I’m Linda, an SLP who loves helping you build effective communication skills for your students using strategies and visuals. Pictures are time consuming, so let me make your life easier!

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