In general, people do not like talking about feelings.

As a society, we rarely ever verbally acknowledge our emotions, instead we often just expect others to read our minds!

We try to ‘read minds’ or be a ‘social detective’ by relying on nonverbal cues, context clues, and knowledge of the person to make a good guess as to how our friends and family members are feeling.

However, reading nonverbal cues and identifying emotions is a difficult skill for many kids diagnosed with Autism spectrum disorder or social language deficits. When we don’t talk about or acknowledge the feelings around us, emotions become even more of a mystery skill to some of our kids.

So, let’s talk about our feelings and start labeling about our emotions throughout our day!

Here is a simple 2-step starter guideline:

  1. Notice an emotion and label it.
  2. Explain why you know that person is feeling a certain way (what nonverbal cues and context clues did you notice?)

Here are some ideas within your routine to get you started.
“I just yawned and my eyes are droopy. I am feeling tired this morning.”

Waiting for the school bus:
“You must be feeling excited for school today. I can see that you are smiling, laughing and jumping up and down as we wait.”

Looking at completed homework:
“I am feeling proud of you. I am smiling and I just clapped my hands together.”

Walking past a crying friend at the park:
“She is feeling sad. I can see that she is frowning and has tears in her eyes.”

When siblings are fighting:
“Brother moved away from you and rolled his eyes; he is feeling annoyed.”

During bath time:
“You are feeling happy! Your body is relaxed and you are smiling!”

When our kids are having a hard time listening:
“I am feeling frustrated. My voice is getting louder and my hands are on my hips.”

Reading a book or watching a movie?
Label all of it – books and movies are great because the emotions and cues are often dramatized.
“Wow – He is surprised! When the family jumped out at him, he covered his mouth and his eyes got big!”

We feel emotions all throughout the day, so let’s model what being a social detective is all about by labeling what we see and talking about the clues!

Written By: Brigitte Waldier, MA, CF-SLP, Speech Language Pathologist