Friday, April 15, 2011

Teaching Emotional Awareness

Recognizing and interpreting the emotions of others, as well as labeling and understanding their own emotions can be difficult for many individuals with ASD. Although we don't typically teach these skills to children because they naturally pick up the cues from their environment, we may need to specifically teach this to children on the spectrum. In this post I will mention a few resources that we've found helpful in teaching these skills to individuals of all different ages.

This is an adorable book to help young kids identify and label their emotions. Oftentimes I start by covering up the "answers" with a piece of white notebook paper to see if the child can identify the emotion just from the picture and then we reveal the answer and talk about the emotion. Some of the emotions in the book a little complicated for young kids, such as proud, but I think the illustrations are very clear and help teach the concepts. Although the first step is to simply identify the emotion, for some kids who have a beginning awareness of their own emotions, you can use this book to see if the child can provide examples of situations where they felt the various emotion. Oh, and another plus is that this book is a board book so is really sturdy-- we love board books!

I structured this task from pictures that I found on the website. This is a great task to use with beginning readers. Here the individual chooses which picture fits the emotion and there is a clear place to put the answer. There are several pictures available on the website--again many of which are quite complex, but you can easily pick out the ones you think your child/client is ready for. I wish that more of the photos were of children, but the pictures tend to be pretty clear in depicting the various emotions.


This is a task that Abby structured (mine wasn't nearly as pretty :) also from the Do2learn website. On the front page of a folder you can just put a pocket or envelope to put the emotion cards in and then when you open up the folder there are various written descriptions of situations that elicit different emotions. This is a great task for middle school age children, adolescents, or even adults. There are three different levels of complexities that you can print and an answer key is provided (there are several emotions that can fit in more than one place which may require the individual with whom you are doing the task to do some switching around if necessary). Again, you can use this activity to talk about situations that apply to the individual and even make up your own activity based on situations you know the person has encountered. Word of Caution: some of the photos in this task are questionable, well one in particular is of a man that looks pretty creepy, so if it weirds you out, then simply don't include that one! 

Have a great weekend everyone :)

- Molly


  1. Awesome... Thank you. Emotions are something we are working on.

  2. Great ideas, as always. I especially like how you covered up the word in the first book- that's so smart. And now I'm off to find pictures of the creepy man, just because you have me curious. :)

  3. Haha! Several of the pictures aren't ideal, especially when working with kids. I think it is a wonderful task that parents could use pictures of their own child to make it more meaningful for them!

  4. Thanks for the info and website. This is an area that is so grey for my son, he's seven. We've been working with emotions on and off and it seems to be one of the harder things for him to grasp. Thanks for the info!!

  5. Hope you find the resources helpful, Lizbeth! Would love to hear your progress!