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Ways to respond to the emotions of others

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The aim of these lessons is to help students and clients increase their awareness of other people’s emotions and to develop strategies for reacting appropriately. Empathy and reflective listening are often difficult concepts, particularly for students diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This section may require repetition over time and generalisation to real life situations to support the development of socially appropriate behaviours.

If you are unsure whether your client has foundation knowledge to access this lesson please return to the Early Concepts Version.

example of how to respond to a friend who is sad

Generalisation ideas

  • Sorting: Use the No box to sort appropriate or expected responses and inappropriate or unexpected responses
  • Talking through scenarios:  Give examples of peers experiencing different emotions and identify images that convey how you think you would respond.
  • Using real-life examples: Use images to describe events in your learners life.
  • Consequences of appropriate vs inappropriate responding; consequences of behaving in noncongruent ways such as standing close to someone who is angry; hitting someone when you’re angry; hugging a stranger when you feel sad
  • Flipsides:  learning about behaviours that match key emotions; acceptable and unacceptable expressions of emotion
  • Create a social story
  • Use music to generate different emotions for self-reflection
  • Flashcards:  Use images or words as flashcard reminders of appropriate responses


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