A Face Can Tell a 1000 Stories

Emotions…ahhh, the big word for kids on the autism spectrum or for children with non-verbal learning disabilities.  We are all looking for ways to help kids better understand facial expressions and emotions.  Live faces can be too overwhelming and therefore impossible to process.  TV and movies go by too fast to enable effective understanding.  Photo cards of different people expressing different emotions can be useful but also get crumbled, lost, and sometimes chewed up.  Then there is the question of how to work on facial expressions and their meaning in a group context since that is when kids will most often need to interpret emotions; on the fly, with peers in school and on the playground.

We have discovered a simple tool in the ABA Flash Cards – Emotions app developed by Innovative Mobile Apps.  The app is essentially a set of photos of a variety of different faces showing a variety of different emotions.  We take one child away from the group and show a picture of one of the emotions in the app.  That child then attempts to replicate the emotional expression and checks if he is doing it right by looking in a hand held mirror.   When he is satisfied that his expression accurately reflects the emotion he is trying to convey, he shows it to the group who then guesses what that child is “feeling”.   When the group members are correct, the “actor” proudly turns the iPad around to show the group what he was mimicking.  With older kids, we talk about why the child in the picture may be experiencing that emotion. We talk about what could have happened to cause that feeling.  We discuss when and where the kids in the group may have felt that way and how others reacted to them.

Yes, this activity could be done with photo cards as well but the extensive number of cards, the capability to put your own photos in the program AND the fact that this is an “app”  make this a much more acceptable and cool way to work on that big concept…Emotions.

by Jill Perry, MS, MHA, OTR/L

If you found the ideas in this blog helpful, you will definitely appreciate the activity ideas in the Social Adventures app available on the Social Adventures - all4mychild