There have been times in our lives when we wished we would have kept a thought in our head and not expressed it to others. It’s those times, we should have used our THOUGHT BUBBLE. We communicate our feelings, thoughts and ideas during conversation with others. However, not everything we think needs to be said. Sometimes expressing thoughts out loud can be inappropriate, annoying, uninteresting or rude.

Children that have difficulty with social skills are often challenged by conversation. They may make inappropriate or offensive comments (Williamson & Dorman, 2002). A variety of difficulties is associated with a tendency to inappropriately verbalize thoughts, including:

  • Perseveration on preferred topics or activities that cause children to ‘get stuck’ talking about things in detail, even though the listener or play partner is not interested
  • A tendency to think out loud or repeat things that have already been said
  • Impulsivity that leads to speaking without thinking first
  • Lack of ability to read cues that would help others know what is appropriate to say
  • A limited repertoire of ideas to share
  • Difficulty understanding that some thoughts may be hurtful or insulting

Children who are not careful about what they say to others are at risk for social difficulties. As they get older, inappropriate comments can lead to socially awkward, confusing and even dangerous situations.

 Start by helping the child learn the concept of a thought bubble:             thought bubble

  • A thought bubble is a place where ideas that are not shared by others are kept.
  • Words that are not appropriate for the conversation can stay in our heads, safely in the thought bubble.
  • We can use the ideas kept in our thought bubbles to practice what we want to say.

Once the child understands the concept, set up some rules about the thought bubble:

  • Think before you speak.
  • Not everything we think needs to be said.
  • If we think about something that is not related to the conversation (for example, thinking about dinosaurs when everyone else is talking about movies), we keep that in a thought bubble.

 quick tips use

Baltazar Mori, A. & Bonfield Piantanida, D. (2007). Every child wants to play. Torrance, CA. Pediatric Therapy Network.

Willey. L.H. (1999). Pretending to be normal: living with Asperger’s syndrome. London, England. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Williamson, G. & Dorman, W. (2002). Promoting social competence. San Antonio, TX. Therapy Skills Builders.

APP REVIEW: Conversation Builders

conversation photo 1

Conversation is the primary way we communicate. It is also one of the most difficult components of social skills for children and adults with pragmatic language issues. Pragmatic language is the social use of language including non-verbal communication, gestures, turn-taking, use of questions, maintaining topic and saying related and appropriate comments.

Conversation Builder and Conversation Builder for Teens by Mobile Education Store are helpful in facilitating conversational skills.

These apps provide a conversation simulation that is similar to ‘real-life’ and is highly motivating for the students. It gives options for initiating a conversation, responding to someone starting a conversation and maintaining a conversation.  It contains photos of believable children and teens while providing visual and spoken options for responses.

What I like…….

  • Excellent instructions provided for first time users
  • Can choose to have verbal instructions turned on or off
  • Options to have short or longer conversations
  • A variety of appropriate topics are available
  • The student can record their voices
  • Incorrect answers are gently identified with a suggestion so the student can choose again
  • Facial expressions and tone of voice are embedded to look and sound natural
  • Ease with saving conversations and the ability to email and share
  • Parental controls with the Teen version to control more mature topics

The students love hearing their voices and playback is easy with the touch of a button.


What I  would like to see…..

  • Opportunities for the students have conversations with peers and adults simultaneously
  • More sarcasm and situations that are opportunities to identify the difference between annoying and bullying

021608-yellow-comment-bubbles-icon-symbols-shapes-smiley-happyI highly recommend Conversation Builder and Conversation Builder for Teens for parents and professionals. I look forward to more apps from the Mobile Education Store.

This app is much easier to interact with on the iPad vs. the iPhone.

Price- $19.99