by Deb Browne, MS, CCC-SLP

Sometimes we focus on reading nonverbal signals to develop social thinking. Here we are looking at a photograph of Brehm students on a recent trip to Nashville. Using a laptop, we can enlarge each face and make decisions about whether the person is doing “expected or unexpected” behaviors and really investigate facial expressions. We use post-it-notes to attach thought bubbles about what the person might be thinking, considering facial expression, eye gaze, body position, and the context of the situation. A mirror is also used to ask the student to try to imitate various facial expressions, helping them actually feel a given emotion, thereby creating motor pathways as well as visual representations of various feelings. Research theories about mirror neuron pathways suggest imitation helps develop perspective taking and empathy.