Awesome Links for Non-Verbal Communication and Emotions You Need to Know

The longer I have worked with moderately-severely involved students, both those on the spectrum and those with emotional disabilities, the more I realize how important a role that weak social language/pragmatic skills play in their inability to function in a mainstream environment.  
Check out these great links for teaching emotions and nonverbal language skills!

While these skills are important for both disabilities, I have observed that the way that they impact my students differs. 

My emotionally disturbed students tend to flare up easily.  They misunderstand idiomatic language and inferences their peers are making, misread body language cues, facial expressions and gestures, interpreting situations as more negative toward themselves than they may actually be.  

Another situation that occurs is that they are correct in reading the social situation as being negative, but then don’t have the language skills to work out compromises and negotiate solutions peaceably. They often understand the basic emotions but lack the nuances and vocabulary for sophisticated emotions to be able to regulate their emotions using language. 

For example, if you can only think about angry and furious, how do you think/talk it out that what happened is aggravating and not worth getting in more trouble over? Of course, in reality it is not this simple, but the language for emotions does play a role in the big picture.

Students on the spectrum may not even realize that non-verbal communication exists. They often have poor eye contact, so they spend less time looking at facial expressions to begin with. Between interpreting the language they understand very literally, and misunderstanding the facial expressions, gestures and body language people use to communicate, 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!

Despite the impacts of these deficits displaying themselves in different ways in these populations, the materials that I use for building vocabulary for emotions are the same. The differentiation occurs in choosing the the materials and vocabulary level based on the cognitive skills/maturity of the students, and then in how the vocabulary is elicited in application activities afterward.

Emotion Vocabulary & Non-Verbal Cues Links- Younger/Lower Level

A game to help young children understand the eye gaze is an important communication tool.

Hover over the faces to see them change from neutral to the named emotion. 
Explore online how changing the eyes and the mouth on faces makes different emotions.

Match the exact same faces in a robot game.

Choose girl/boy/man/woman and then find the face in a field of three that matches the named emotion.

This article, written by a parent, offers some free downloads as well as activity ideas.

Emotion Vocabulary & Non-Verbal Cues Links- Older/Higher Level

Free download for games with graphics for older kids:
Memory Pairs
Aging Face Timeline Game
Name the Mood Games
Odd Face Out Game

Dominoes and other printables with the same graphics.

Printable materials for emotion vocabulary using clip art geared toward older kids.

These resources are great for teaching nuances of emotions, how we can feel combinations of emotions, and that they vary in intensity. Find more free resources on this site!

Pictured faces and emotions, as well as scenarios for each, which can be used with games or as stand alone activities.
Lesson plans for teaching varied social skills

A variety of games and activities for emotions and social skills

Given a scenario, make a comic strip. Discuss the emotion that the characters could be feeling and do some problem solving! Speech bubbles give practice in formulating language for conflict resolution.

This site is another great one for creating comics. Let our students decide on the problem, chose the appropriate character to show the emotion, and use their vocabulary in the speech bubble dialogues.

Are you looking for some ready made, easy to implement materials that will help you with  your mixed groups?  Click here!

I hope you are enjoying this summer series on helpful links and tips! You can see the first post in this series here. If I missed any great resources, I’d love it if you would share your faves in the comments!

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