We Can Make It Better! Social Problem Solving Through Flexible Stories

Elizabeth M. Delsandro

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  • Ages: 4-8
  • Pages: 183
  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 9780982523131
  • Published: 2010


All kids have multiple opportunities to engage in social activities across a day, but their success greatly depends on how they negotiate each encounter. Social problem-solving is an important skill for living in a social world. Some students may have struggle to identify and solve social dilemmas, which may place them at future risk for being socially isolated.

We Can Make It Better! is a resource for safe and motivating social problem-solving practice. With the right tools, practice and understanding, students can learn how to make different choices — in their thoughts, actions and words — that result in improved social interactions. With a bank of successes to draw upon and opportunities to generalize their way of thinking to real-life situations, they may increase their potential for positive social interactions in the future.

At the center of the strategy is a short story that provides opportunities for an individual or small group to identify social dilemmas, express ideas to make the dilemmas better, and gain more understanding in how what one person says or does can positively or negatively impact the outcome (relationship) between people.

Each story follows the same sequence, with the introduction of a familiar event or activity (such as playing a board game with a friend) and a set of social dilemmas related to the context. These dilemmas (e.g., cheating at the game, making comments that are hurtful, quitting the game when losing) occur between the characters of the story and lead to an undesirable conclusion or natural consequence (e.g., a character reconsiders playing with their peer, quits the game and goes home). Each story invites the learners to “make it better,” resulting in active verbal problem-solving and a more preferred ending or outcome to the story. Teaching materials included on CD for easy printing.

The We Can Make It Better! Stories (21 stories) in the book are designed primarily for K-2 kids. However, the story strategy of We Can Make It Better! may be used for immature older students, because teachers, therapists, parents, and other caregivers can design their own stories based on their students' social goals (e.g., create situations to help them practice in safe social scenarios).

About the Author

Elizabeth Delsandro, M.S., CCC-SLP, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders at the University of Iowa, Iowa City. She works with autistic individuals and others with social communication differences, focusing on functional communication, social participation, emotional regulation, and peer and community awareness. She has been an autism consultant with the Grant Wood Area Education Agency in the Iowa public school system and an assistive technology trainer in Virginia public schools.

Elizabeth also has worked as a speech-language pathologist in Baltimore public schools and at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. A graduate of West Virginia University, she has taught master’s level courses at George Mason University and Johns Hopkins University. Elizabeth enjoys spending time with her husband, Chris, collecting pottery, painting, taking road trips and appreciating nature.

Recommended Teaching & Learning Pathway

If you’re looking to implement the Social Thinking Methodology, teach the following materials alongside We Can Make it Better! to help individuals communicate more effectively, socially problem solve, and ultimately—build relationships. As with our products, this Teaching & Learning Pathway is relevant to clinicians, educators, parents—anyone helping a person develop their social competencies.

  • Ages 4-8

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