The Conversation Club curriculum provides a comprehensive instructional framework for teaching both the “how” and “why” of conversation. It is designed to target the needs of elementary-aged children with high functioning autism (HFA) and other social cognition challenges. As a result of brain-based differences, individuals with HFA experience significant social cognitive impairments that interfere with the development of conversation skills.
The Conversation Club curriculum uses an adapted version of the Teaching Interaction Procedure (TIP) framework. TIP is a model for instruction that includes providing a rationale for why learning a skill is important, breaking each skill into its component parts, demonstrating/modeling the skill, and providing opportunities for students to practice the skill with scaffolded support, feedback, and reinforcement.
Conversation Club members have a clubhouse, secret passwords, and club rules. The Conversation Club is comprised of eight units, each beginning with a “social story” that introduces club members to a new character who represents a critical skill, followed by activities that offer explicit instruction in each of the skills necessary for successful conversation. Fun and interesting characters including Friendly Freddy, Paco the Parrot, and Listening Lisa are introduced in each of the eight units.
Seven key goal areas are targeted - perspective taking and social motivation; environmental awareness and body readiness; conversation initiation and topic selection; topic maintenance; active listening behaviors and attention to conversation; gaining attention behaviors; and conversation breakdown and repair strategies. The book includes The Conversation Club’s Progress Report, a checklist for instructors to use to gather baseline data as well as monitor progress during the course of the intervention.