Creative Ways to Encourage Conversation Skills Using the Ever-Popular Crocs
By Karen Kaplan
As a speech therapist, I have always been interested in helping children learn to communicate their needs, wants, dislikes, frustrations, hopes, desires, feelings, and much more. Today I realized that a pair of Crocs on someone’s feet could be a great conversation starter.
Just think about it. Crocs are very, very popular shoes for children, teens, and adults. Have you ever wandered through a Crocs store? I just did. Crocs are available in all colors of the rainbow including a classic rainbow dye style! So now, think about it, a person’s favorite color may reside right on their foot. You might then teach a person with autism or limited conversation skills to notice Crocs. You might teach them that people choose Crocs or shoes in their favorite colors. You might teach them colors while wandering in a Croc store. Just point out different colors to them—or maybe name the colors as you walk around the store and ask them to look for the corresponding shoes. You might develop their curiosity about people’s favorite colors. They can even practice asking their friends or family members their favorite color(s).
But do not stop there. Crocs showcase a whole array of Jibbitz™ shoe charms. Yes, you can purchase these appealing charms and fasten them on top of the Crocs. I saw charms in the shop that represented every kind of sport, food and beverage, cartoon characters, vehicles, storybook characters, numbers, and letter charms, too. So many possibilities!
So, while your child picks out their favorite color, they can also choose their favorite charms that represent their interests. You can tell them that when they put charms on their shoes and walk about, friends and family members might notice their likes and interests. You can teach them that the charms on peoples’ Crocs can tell a story about the person, and it might lead them to ask questions about a person’s interests. An entire conversation might be started just by noticing their colors and charms.
Purchasing Crocs may give you the opportunity to discuss how to identify prices and encourage a child to ask questions from the staff. The experience also teaches that shoes come in all different sizes, and the experience of trying them on may help build fine motor skills.
Sometimes, classroom teachers have a show and tell time. You might check in with the teacher and find out if your child might bring in their Crocs and talk about their interests by using their shoes. Perhaps this lesson could be expanded by asking classmates about their interests and favorite colors. There is so much to be learned!
Karen Kaplan, MS, is a native San Franciscan. She completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, in speech pathology and audiology. She minored in special education and obtained her speech therapist and special education credentials in California. Karen worked as a speech therapist for schools for 20 years before opening her own residential and education program for students with autism. She worked in credential programs at Sacramento State University as well as UC Davis and spent 20 years directing private schools for those with autism and similar learning challenges. Karen founded a non-profit, Offerings, which helps cultures globally to understand those with developmental challenges. For seven years, she founded and facilitated an autism lecture series and resource fair in Northern California. Karen still facilitates an annual Autism Awesomeness event. She is currently consulting, helping families, schools, and centers for children, teens, and adults. Karen has authored three books: Reach Me Teach Me: A Public School Program for the Autistic Child; A Handbook for Teachers and Administrators, On the Yellow Brick Road: My Search for Home and Hope for the Child with Autism, and Typewriting to Heaven… and Back: Conversations with My Dad on Death, Afterlife and Living (which is not about autism but about having important conversations with those we love).