Crafting Connections Review: The Crafting Connections book is a comprehensive manual on how to develop and teach social language skills to children and youths with autism spectrum disorder. Yet, the book is not strictly limited to use with just children with an ASD. Children with poor oral language and social language skills who don't specifically have an ASD would also benefit from learning the book's principles.
The authors of Crafting Connections have focused attention on how to teach social awareness, social communication, social interaction, social learning and social relatedness. The manual outlines and provides examples of how to teach social skills using role-play and direct instruction. The instructions are logical and relatively easy to use but do require educators to construct their own scenarios. The level of scaffolded support provided by the manual however makes the construction of scenarios fun, challenging and achievable.
Crafting Connections Review - Specific Sections
Each main section is developed and its rationale explained in detail. A particular section may have 5-6 specific skills to teach. For instance, the Social Communication section has instructions for teaching five specific social language skills. The first part is Giving Compliments. This section outlines the objectives, the prerequisites before teaching this particular skill and the procedures. The procedures feature direct instruction methods and are separated into distinct phases for easy teaching of the techniques.
For instance, in Phase 1: discrimination training is emphasized with clear instruction on how to teach this component. Phase 2: the student is taught through role-play how to give a common compliment to a communication partner. Phase 3: the student is required to give more specific compliments. Phase 4: the student is taught to determine when or even whether to give a compliment. Phase 5: the giving of specific and broad compliments is generalized to natural everyday situations.
Each section and phase is detailed and logical. More advanced social language and social awareness skills are built on previously learnt skills. The teaching of social language skills using role-play is an active and challenging but wonderful way of teaching social language skills to students. Students become intimately involved in the teaching of social skills and learn to initiate conversations and learn to know what to do or say in sometimes difficult and testing social situations with peers and adults.
Crafting Connections Review - Conclusion
Crafting Connections requires some preparatory reading and planning but the results that can be gained are worth the initial outlay of time. The manual helps to provide a voice and understanding for children with social language difficulty, which makes it a powerful addition to an area of language development that is not well understand by many educators, myself included.