My 5 Favorite Social Skills Curricula

December 15, 2017 No Comments
Social Skills curriculum that fits in to a special education teachers' budget is hard to come by. I'm sharing some of my favorite books to teach social skills to students with autism.
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Most of us don’t get social skills curriculum from our schools.  Cue to many of us spending hours making our own material and trying to write a scope of social skills curriculum.  Yes, curriculum creator is one of the jobs we usually unexpectedly sign on to do the day we sign our first teaching contract.  However, I think not having a set curriculum leaves us open to missing out on some super critical skills that our students, frankly, need to learn to be successful.  It’s like trying to wing it through while cooking.  Yeah, you might be able to make a really a really great casserole by just winging it, but have too much or too little of an essential ingredient can leave you dissatisfied with your creation.  I have learned so much about teaching theory of mind, flexibility, and more thanks to using resources that really dig deep into these vital skills.

Between teaching in a special education classroom and working with in-home clients, I have acquired a small collection of social skills books.  Whenever I am planning lessons in my classroom or writing a program for a client, I always consult these books.  It just makes it so much easier to know how exactly to break these skills into manageable parts.

Confession: I have never heard of the concept of theory of mind until I was given a book on it by my clinical director.  It’s really nothing none of us haven’t heard of.  It is basically perspective taking, which many of us know this is tricky for our students.  However, I love that this book begins with very basic skills, such as joint attention, emotions identification, and imitation.  The book then moves up to targeting more advanced skills, such as understanding figurative language and self-assessment.  There are also caregiver letters to photocopy or just use as a template for notes home to parents about skills targeted.  The format is based on classroom lesson, so it’s super easy to implement for a special education classroom or small group.


This book gives you EVERYTHING to develop a Lego-based social skills club.  I think it is more for social skills group run in clinics, but honestly, I have had no problem implementing a Lego club in my own classroom.  This book goes through all the steps of creating a club, such as following rules, assigning roles, and assessment.  I love using Legos because, although they are technically toys, there is a broad range of ages that can play with Lego.  Keeping things age-appropriate while motivating the heck out of my student.  Oh yeah!

If you are familiar with writing ABA programs, this book is for you!  I love the fact that this book is based on ABA principles.  Not only that, it is easy to implement in a classroom or with an individual client.  Each skill is task analyzed and lists prerequisite skills.  I found this book could tackle a very broad range of skills.  I have personally used it with clients as young as 7 all the way up to those in their teen years.

Hopefully by now, you have heard of the glory that is the Social Thinking Curriculum.  Unfortunately, the books tend to come with somewhat hefty price tags.  However, I found You Are a Social Detective to be worth the price.  Just from this one picture book, you can pull several concepts, including (but not limited to): expected and unexpected behaviors, making smart and wacky guesses, making inferences, whole-body listening….I could go on for quite a while.  The first year I used this book, I was able to utilize it for an entire year.  As I went along and taught the different concepts, I made sure to make a binder with all of the materials I used to support the book.  In the following years, all I had to do was pull worksheets as I taught the lessons.

The best part about these materials is that these books are much more affordable that a lot of curriculum out there.  Even the most penny scrimping teacher can afford those types of prices!
Teaching Theory of Mind: A Curriculum for Children with High Functioning Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, and Related Social Challenges
LEGO®-Based Therapy: How to build social competence through LEGO®-based Clubs for children with autism and related conditions
Crafting Connections: Contemporary Applied Behavior Analysis for Enriching the Social Lives of Persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder
You Are a Social Detective

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