High school is hard for everyone.
With all the rules for friends, crushes, boyfriends and girlfriends changing, it’s confusing!
Most high school students have crushes; but how they are acted upon can be the difference between a budding romance, an embarrassing situation, sexual harassment, or even stalking charges.
But for teens on the autism spectrum, it’s even harder.
Teens with autism and intellectual disabilities want friends and romantic connections, just like their peers – but face extra challenges in developing these relationships. Many lack basic social skills and have difficulty understanding social signals. This often leaves them lonely and isolated, making them at higher risk for crossing social and legal boundaries or being victims of abuse.
Many students who have disabilities demonstrate poor relationship and romantic relationship skills.
Mike’s Crush was designed as a fun way to teach teens with autism, Asperger’s and intellectual disabilities about high school relationships.
Mike’s Crush – Social Signals – Full Curriculum – DVD + Lesson Plans
By Nancy Nowell
The innovative Mike’s Crush curriculum/video program teaches these young people how to establish healthy and safe relationships with their peers, including friendship and romantic relationships. It is a curriculum about social relationships for teens with autism or other special need. It is PEER AND ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIP SKILLS for adolescents who are on the autism spectrum or have intellectual disabilities.
The 8 lessons cover many aspects of middle and high school social interactions. For example, students learn how to identify positive and negative body language, recognize when peers do (or don’t) want to be friends, and understand social and legal lines that must not be crossed.
Mike’s Crush uses research-based teaching strategies that are recommended for students on the autism spectrum. These include visual learning techniques such as video modeling and video self-modeling along with role-playing and other interactive methods.
A key instructional tool is the engaging two part video story (Mike’s Crush) that demonstrates all the pieces of a social interaction puzzle, including communication, body language, friendship, hygiene, and personal space. Through exaggerated examples, the video illustrates how a teen can incorrectly “read” a social situation, as well as how to respond appropriately.
Used together, the lessons, videos and activities help students learn and practice new social behaviors in the safe environment of a classroom.
The Mike’s Crush curriculum is versatile and easy to teach. It is written for use by a variety of school personnel as well as by professionals and group leaders in the community. Instructors can use the lessons as written, adapt them, or use the videos alone to problem-solve relationship issues that are occur in their classrooms.
The Mike’s Crush curriculum and videos include:
Evidenced based treatments as defined by the National Autism Center’s National Standards Project
- A “Very Bad Day” Video (9:38 minutes) with Easy-to-Identify incorrect behavior if you have a crush
- A “Very Good Day” Video (7:09 minutes) that demonstrates healthy ways to handle having a “crush”
- 5 separate video chapters that compare Bad Day and Good Day segments;
- Demonstrations of the right and wrong way to approach a girl (or boy) that you have a crush on. Students learn how to identify positive and negative body language, recognize when peers do or don’t want to be friends and understand social and legal lines that must not be crossed.
- Video Self Modeling (V.S.M.) lessons.
- Visual models for all 8 lessons.
- Eight teacher-tested lessons within a 112 page curriculum manual with detailed teacher instructions
- Multiple activities that practice healthy relationship skills
- Lessons that teach reading both positive and negative responses in a romantic situation.
- Lessons designed to be fun and engaging for students with a wide range of abilities.
- Detailed instructions for teachers to support in teaching this material
- Student assessment, worksheets, quizzes, blank script, and the video scripts
- All handout materials are included on the DVD
- The lessons can be taught by regular school staff and can be easily adapted as needed
All middle and high school special education classes and related services including; special education, learning support, and emotional support teachers, guidance counselors, health teachers, social workers, speech pathologists, psychologists, and behavior consultants. Classroom tested for middle and high school students who have learning and intellectual disabilities as well as students on the autism spectrum.
Other professionals using the Mike’s Crush curriculum are; therapists, community based behavior consultants, professionals working with problematic/ offending sexual behavior, community based socialization groups, sexuality educators, organizations and agencies that provide services to adolescents and young adults who are on the autism spectrum, have learning or intellectual disabilities.
Recommended for ages 11-24
Length: 8 one-hour lessons
Who is Nancy Nowell?
Nancy Nowell MPA MEd CSE
Certified Sexuality Educator
Over the course of Ms. Nowell’s career she has worked with people who have disabilities of all ages; from infants through adults, in both residential and school settings, with families and self-advocates. In recent years she became concerned with the high rate of sexual assault experienced by all people with disabilities and learned how few resources were available.After graduating with a degree in Human Sexuality Education from Widener University in 2002 she obtained additional training in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), victims of sexual assault, consent, problematic and sexual offending behavior.
Each of these areas requires a specialized knowledge and skills when working with people who have learning or intellectual disabilities, or are on the autism spectrum. She founded Social Signals to develop educational materials designed that provide a structured, specialized approach to common adolescent and young adult relationship issues.
Ms. Nowell’s Training and Experience
- Over 35 years working with children, adolescents, and adults who are on the autism spectrum or have intellectual disabilities.
- Masters Degree in Human Sexuality Education
- Certified Sexuality Educator
- Currently teaching in 25 classrooms across the Philadelphia area
- Nine years teaching middle and high school students who have autism, Asperger’s, and intellectual disabilities about; puberty, boundaries, relationships, understanding your body, sexual abuse risk reduction, relationship rules and laws.
- 2007 Emerging Professional Award from the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS) and the Foundation for the Scientific Study of Sexuality.