Our last hyperlexia post introduced using social narratives to help prime our HxL for new experiences or expectations. We also touched briefly on how social narratives can be used to teach abstract concepts such as emotions and feelings, and can even provide written scripts for an internal monologue!
Many people talk to themselves constantly throughout the day — for example, we might argue with ourselves about whether or not we can take five more minutes to sleep, or plan out our days by asking ourselves, “what needs to happen first?” or by negotiating, “I don’t want to do that today, I can do it tomorrow.” When we feel intense emotions, we can soothe ourselves in various ways like thinking, “I should take a few deep breaths and think about my dog–that always helps me feel calmer!” Since HxLs have difficulty generating the language of these internal arguments on their own, we can provide scripts to help them learn how to process and problem-solve independently.
When writing a social narrative to teach or support emotional processing, it is preferable to introduce the story first, when the HxL is feeling regulated, and then again when the child is feeling the emotion being discussed. Since emotions are extremely abstract concepts, it is important to consider the language we are providing them to label what they’re feeling. For example, if the HxL is feeling sad, providing a social narrative about feeling angry and how they can calm themselves will likely lead to confusion about those feelings and vocabulary.
We can write social narratives about certain emotions and how to deal with those feelings, or we can write social narratives about certain triggers. For example, a social narrative might discuss how to react when a friend or sibling won’t share a toy. During the social narrative we can discuss:
…how we feel when someone won’t share with us…
“I feel sad or angry when my friend doesn’t share with me.”
…how we can problem solve or compromise…
“I can say ‘okay’ and ask again later,” or “I can take a turn when they are done.”
…the other person’s perspective and how they might feel…
“They wanted to play by themself,” or “They weren’t done playing.”
…how to regulate our emotions…
“When I feel sad, I can ask my parent for a hug. When I feel angry, I can count to 20 and take deep breaths.”
… or anything else that you would like to support!
TouchAutism has some great examples for social narratives written to support processing of possible triggers.