Monday, April 29, 2013

DSM-V Propelled RE-Review : Bubble Talk: Perspective-Taking Can Be Hilariously Helpful

What would be a good caption for this?  Better yet, what would your friend think? 

NEWS: The DSM-V is coming! The DSM-V is coming! Quick, it's time to update your TOOLBOX!  Have you heard of "Social Communication Disorder"???  What's that? You think your boss has it?   Your spouse maybe?  Wait... let's be serious for one minute and talk about a very hilariously helpful game.

WHAT:  Bubble Talk Game  by Technosource
Encourages you to think about what would please someone else using outrageous humor and a little reading
TOOLS:  Lose and Win Gracefully, Fertilize Responsibility and Courtesy, Foment the Love of Language

I recently read an amazing article by Michelle Garcia Winner in the Autism Support Network website.  For those of you who don't know Michelle Garcia Winner. I say, get to know her.  It doesn't matter if you or your child has special needs or not.  Her approach to communication is just genius.  I watched her speak at a YAI conference in New York City and all I can say is: I CAN NOT WAIT UNTIL SHE COMES BACK!!!

Anyway, in the article, she opened my eyes WIDE when she said that many children will now be diagnosed with something called "Social Communication Disorder"  (APA pdf here)

I'm with a celebrity! Michelle Garcia Winner of Social Thinking (left) and I pose for a phot at the YAI conference in NYC, 2011

Here is a direct lift off of the article in the Autism Support Network:

How might the shift to Social Communication Disorder change assessment and treatment strategies? 

It is my best guess that students diagnosed with Social Communication Disorder (SCD) will be referred to a speech-language pathologist as the first level of services. This is also fairly routine for students with ASD [Autism Spectrum Disorder], so this is not all together a “new” idea. However, right now those with higher level ASD often have behaviorists included as an integral part of their treatment plan, often as case managers, and this may not be the case with those diagnosed with SCD. This means that a lot more students will receive SLP [Speech and Language Pathology] referrals with the SLP becoming the primary case manager. Our national and state organizations for SLPs need to get organized NOW and determine how to handle this influx of attention on SLPs as primary treatment providers for students diagnosed with SCD. Currently there are many SLPs who have taken a strong interest in the more complex, subtle yet significant social learning challenges of this population. But there are also many in our field who want little or nothing to do with this type of student.


So why am I writing about this and why I am offering my thoughts on Bubble Talk again?  Because Bubble Talk is precisely the kind of game that in my opinion will help with perspective taking skills for certain children. Ms. Winner describes these issues above as "more complex, subtle yet significant social learning challenges."  Basically, you're rewarded for thinking about what your opponent may choose as funny.  It is actually a lot harder than you think but you really don't care if you lose because it's a ton of laughs.

Still not convinced?  Feel free to take our son's perspective when it comes to cleaning up.

One thing that I hate doing these days is telling my son to clean up.  I know that everyone probably hates doing this but I particularly hate it because I find myself talking too much.

What about that those toys over there- do you still care about them?
Why are your clothes still on the bathroom floor?
Are these your socks?  Is this where they belong?

I was getting so fed up.  Why do I need to tell him what to pick up and where to put it?  He should know already!  The answer:  He is not thinking about what is expected of him.  To be kind, I should say that he is not programmed to think this way very often.

There are tons of captions and photos from which to choose. 

All I know is that it is painful to tell him to clean up and really ask him to do anything where the finished job will be judged by me.  Thus, I came up with a phrase to repeat to him that helps me not have to give directions to pick up every little thing.

Stress-Reducing Magical Phrase: "Look With MY Eyes"

I say, "When you think you're done, look at it with my eyes before you walk away."

I can't tell you that he cleans up like his mother now but it is soooo much better and best of all, I do not have the frustration build-up that one gets when they have given one too many directives.  You know what that is like..... even at the workplace you have the same issue with people you manage or train.  Sometimes you feel like it is just faster to do it yourself.   Teaching someone how to clean up is hard but teaching someone how to think about what the other person wants?   That is really hard but it's a skill so incredibly important.

Which caption would your friend find most funny?

Each player picks one from seven cards, hands it over it face down to the picture holder.  If that person picks my caption, I keep the picture.  Whoever has the most pictures wins!

Is there a toy or game that helps with this?  Sure, all strategy games like Qwirkle or Mine Shift reward players for thinking about their opponent's next move.  But what about how to make their opponent laugh? How do you win over your opponent instead of winning against your opponent?

Easy- just follow the bubbles.

Bubble Talk is a game that I learned about at the Toy Fair.  Within a minute of playing, I understood its magic: Through the promise of laughter, Bubble Talk encourages you to attempt the heady task of taking another's perspective on a situation. 

Here's how it works:

Let's say there are three players.  One is holding a photo of an outrageous scene like the one below.

I wonder if my kids know which caption that I would pick for this. hmmmm.

You have seven of these cards to read and you have to pick out  a great caption for this shot BUT, the trick is to pick the caption that the person holding the card will choose.

It's always harder to guess what others may be thinking.

Everyone will have different cards and each player gives his top choice and the person holding the picture will read all the captions (without knowing who's who) and make a selection.  The person who gave the selected cards gets to keep the card and whoever gets six cards first wins.   Bubble Talk has more than this one game approach.  With these cards, it is quite easy to make up your own game. 

I played this game with two bright and cheery 9 year old girls who loved it. I also had my teen tester (13 years old) try this out with her buddies and all of them fell in love with Bubble Talk.

Importance of Taking Another's Perspective

Being able to take someone else's perspective in any given situation is definitely a skill in my book.  It is asked of us and our children everyday.   When the kids are at school and they are answering a reading comprehension question, they must answer it in the way that it not only meets their standards but more importantly it meets their teacher's standards because she's the one who is doing the grading.

Perspective-taking is so important in social relationships.  It's important in not just making friends but also coexisting with others in an elevator or in an apartment building or even in the classroom.   When we fail to take the perspective of others but we appear to be intelligent enough to understand what is expected behavior, we will, as a kid would say.... "Get in trouble."

How we perceive people and how they perceive us brings about great understanding and facilitates better communication.

I learned a lot about this through reading about the Social Thinking curriculum.  If you have a child who knows the rules of social communication but often doesn't use them well "in-the-moment," then you might want to check out what is Social Thinking.  In her website, Michelle Garcia Winner, a pioneer in the world of teaching social skills, Michelle Garcia Winner defines social thinking as:  what we do when we interact with people: we think about them. And how we think about people affects how we behave, which in turn affects how others respond to us, which in turn affects our own emotions.

T or F? Your Opinion of Me Affects How I Feel About Me

In short, I think many of our kids and possibly even us, need to be encouraged to think about others's thoughts and feelings in a more positive and constructive way.  When I was younger, thinking about what others thought was strongly discouraged.   We were always taught that what THEY think doesn't matter but clearly so we should not care about it.  But, now that we are grown-ups, we know that we do and will always care and dare I say, care about what others think about us.  Because, as Ms. Winner says.... it affects how we feel about ourselves.

I love Technosource's box.  They are really sturdy but you can easily just take out the cards and put them in a ziploc.  Then Voila! You Have a Travel Game!

Want the game? Please use my links to support Toys are Tools!!!  Just put in the cart and buy later... it still counts... don't ask me how these things work! Ugh... so confusing!

Next Month is also Better Speech and Hearing Month and I'll be featuring as many cool tools focusing on perspective taking as much as possible.   Please send me your ideas!  toysaretools at gmail dot com

 Fave Social Thinking Books - I like the two blue covered books for IEP goal writing!!!

Disclosure : Toys are Tools has not been compensated in any fashion for the publication of this post by the manufacturer of any of the products mentioned here .  A review unit was provided to Toys are Tools to facilitate a review.

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