Our ability to understand nonverbal communication is essential for successful social interactions. If we don't know what is being communicated, how can we respond appropriately?
In recent years, awareness has been raised concerning the importance of understanding nonverbal communication, including facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice. Reading these nonverbal clues has proven challenging for some individuals, including many on the autism spectrum. Yet parents, teachers, and therapists have often been left to their own devices, as far as how to teach nonverbal communication. How does one teach something so complex, yet so intuitive?
Beyond Words: Using Paralanguage to Communicate Effectively was written to provide a sequence of teaching activities for students struggling to understand paralanguage. It begins with a quick overview of understanding emotions and body language. These topics are not covered in detail in this curriculum, however, some activities are provided, as well as a list of resources for teaching these topics in more detail. Beyond Words has broken down paralanguage into its distinguishing characteristics; volume, rate, emphasis, and inflection, with a chapter devoted to each. The final chapter entitled, Tone of Voice, integrates all of these different voice characteristics, along with facial expressions and body language to give the student practice at determining the speaker s emotional state in a more holistic way, considering all aspects of nonverbal communication together.
The main emphasis throughout the curriculum is that it is activity-based. Like learning a new language, what is needed is a lot of practice and repetition. A wide variety of engaging activities are used to teach and reinforce skills, including listening practice, games, movie clips, role-plays, and apps. This curriculum has two goals. The first goal is that students become better communicators, both at expressing themselves as well as understanding others. The second is that they have fun and enjoy the process of learning these new skills.
"With BEYOND WORDS, Pat Crissey has taken the complex and critical topic of nonverbal communication and examined it from a user-friendly and practical perspective. Her clear and concise explanations, accompanied by dozens of useful and practical strategies and resources, will empower individuals, service providers, and family members to enjoy a rich spectrum of communication across the lifespan."
--Lisa Combs, MA, Wright State University Instructor and Educational Consultant
"The ability to understand non-verbal communication and adjust to the needs of various situations is essential to communicative competence but is a significant challenge for many students. BEYOND WORDS, a well-organized, easy-to-read book, is a wonderful resource for parents, teachers, and other school professionals who support individuals in comprehending the complexity of nonverbal communication. Chapter topics include understanding emotions, body language, voice volume, and tone of voice, with specific information on how to teach the learner how to interpret the clues about what is being communicated. Each chapter includes concrete solutions with step-by-step instructions for implementing each activity as well as numerous resources, including easy-to-access video clips that bring the lessons to life, all of which support the teaching of paralanguage. BEYOND WORDS is a fantastic resource that makes a complex topic straightforward, uncomplicated, and fun to teach!"
--Carol Burmeister, M.A., educational consultant and co-author of FLIPP THE SWITCH: STRENGTHEN EXECUTIVE FUNCTION SKILLS
"Have you ever sat down at the computer to find a clip that will perfectly illustrate a social thinking strategy? The time it takes to navigate the web to find those resources can be frustrating but not with this book at your side. With Crissey's book BEYOND WORDS, you will have effective resources in your hands within moments that are current, age-appropriate, and fun. The 'Just for Fun' section in each chapter are full of ideas, websites, and apps that can be used to add depth, dimension, and discussion to individual or group lessons. A practical guide for navigating Youtube with keyword searches is exactly what busy professionals need."
--Coreen Dutka, M.Ed, Teacher of Autism/Asperger's Resource Program
Meet the Author
Pat Crissey has been a special education teacher and autism consultant for over twenty years. She has written numerous special education books and teaching materials, which evolved from her hands-on experience working with kids and adults with special needs. Pat lives in Oregon with her husband and has three grown children and two young granddaughters.