Article Review: Using “I Will” Cards and Social Coaches to Improve Social Behaviors in Students with Asperger Syndrome
Article: Using “I Will” Cards and Social Coaches to Improve Social Behaviors in Students with Asperger Syndrome
Author: Amanda Boutot
Summary: Boutot’s article discusses a strategy called “I will” cards to support the learning and practicing of ideal social behaviours for Asperger Syndrome (AS) students and their use of self-talk and social coaches. The article starts by presenting four strategies, which have been supportive to AS students; social stories, social scripts, power card strategy and cognitive behaviour modification (CBM). Boutot presents that because AS students have strong vocabulary and memory skills with creative and sincere traits the “I will” cards support students’ weaknesses, for example, repetitive behaviour or impulsivity, while engaging their strengths (2009). The aim of the cards is to have AS students begin to prompt themselves to change behaviour without others telling or guiding them. “I will” cards are closely connected to the CBM strategy and incorporate elements of all four original strategies outlined at the beginning of the article. Similar to CBM “I will” cards use a strategy known as self-talk to act as “mantras” (Boutot, 2009, p. 278) to guild students feelings and behaviours. The cards show a situation, which has been written from the AS student’s perspective; for example, “When I have something to say in class, I will raise my hand” (Boutot, 2009, p. 278). The cards are both a reminder for students and act as visual prompts during a situation that might be challenging or upsetting (Boutot, 2009). Boutot continues by outlining five planning steps for developing “I will” cards, which include; identifying the areas of behaviour needed to be worked on, creating self-talk and “I will” statements, making cards with scripts, teaching the student to use the cards and finally creating time each day for students to work with a social coach to review the cards (2009). The social coach’s role is further outlined with an example dialogue for review. Social coaches are one or two trusted adults the student can work with twice daily to review cards and their use. Boutot states that all those working with the student need to be aware of the “I will” cards and support the student to use them through the day. For example, a classroom teacher can ask a student to review their cards instead of telling them to raise their hand (Boutot, 2009). The article concludes with added considerations for use, including the conjoined use of a behaviour contract along with the cards, and ensuring that parents and guardians of the AS student are part of the decision to use “I will” cards and their process.
Implications for classroom teaching: As a classroom teacher I can see “I will” cards being very supportive to AS students, other students in the class and the teacher’s ability to support the AS student make behaviour choices which are supportive to their growth. Knowing the student has a system and is working to self manage their behaviour is very supportive to the classroom teacher, because the cards act as a tool for the student to use to make choices and they are also a tool the teacher can use to support the student in making those choices. For instance, Boutot gave an example of a teacher directing the student to look at their cards to know to put their hand up, this is a direct and simply way to address a behaviour. I believe “I will” cards provide AS students with self-regulation strategies and in turn that supports their classroom teacher and their own learning greatly.
Boutot, E. Amanda. (2009). Using “I Will” cards and social coaches to improve social behaviors in students
with Asperger Syndrome. Intervention in School and Clinic, 44:276, 276-281.
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