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Starting Conversations with
Classmates, Teachers, and Family


  1. Greet the person. Say, "Hi" or "How are you?" the first time you seem them during the day.
  2. Ask questions about what they are doing in the PRESENT SITUATION. "What are you [doing] [talking about] [eating] [reading]?" "How do you like this [class, lunch, project, game]?" "Where did you get the [shirt, hat, sneakers, watch]?"
  3. Ask Questions about the PAST. "How was your [day, week, weekend, vacation, holiday]?" "Did you hear about [what happened in the news, the new TV show, a sports game]?"
  4. Questions about the FUTURE. "What are you going to do for [after school, this weekend, this week, for vacation]?"
  5. Ask about one of THEIR INTERESTS. "Have you been [doing a favorite activity, playing a favorite game, watching a favorite TV show, working on a favorite project] lately?"
  6. Remember to ask follow up questions and make on-topic comments. WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY, HOW, WHAT ELSE


Who will I try this with?


What Happened?

How did I do?


Suggested Activities to Reinforce Conversation Starters

  1. Activities to review or generate CONVERSTATION STARTERS include:
    1. Ask students what they would say to start a conversation in each of the situations shown below. Use a quiz show format with points or play money for appropriate responses.
    2. When students are in their language arts classes, see if they can be assigned to write sentences and paragraphs that are conversation starters for different situations. In other words, when they are working on grammar or paragraph formation, they can also be working on conversation starters.
    3. Make list of people you know and things that they do. For example, write down what jobs they have, their hobbies or interests, and what classes they take. Use this as basis for conversation starters. For example, if you know that a fellow group member likes basketball, then ask, "Have you seen any good basketball games lately?"
  2. Role-play CONVERSTATION STARTERS. Suggested role-plays: a. Use the situations shown below or ask the students to tell you the actual situations they experience. Let each conversation continue for several minutes so they also work on maintaining a conversation.
  3. Bait the skill. This means doing something that requires your student to Start a Conversation.
    1. For example, purposely stay quiet when you see the student for the first time during the day or when you have something in your hand you know might be interesting to the student (e.g., a picture of something, a new game, or a book). Then prompt or wait for him or her to start the conversation.
  4. Correct inappropriate ways to Start a Conversation, such as launching into a monologue about a subject of little interest to others. Prompt by saying, "first ask how they are doing or how they have been. Then ask if they want to hear about what you want to talk about." (Also see the skill called "Talking Briefly").
  5. Provide rewards for appropriate Conversation Starters.
    1. Give verbal praise for correct or partially correct Conversation Starters.
    2. Give tokens, pennies, or points every time the student Starts a Conversation appropriately. When he or she gets five tokens, give a special reward (e.g., snack, stickers, or privileges to play special game).

Situations for Conversation Starters


  1. You overhear someone talking about his or her vacation.
  2. You see your friend on a Monday morning.
  3. You see your classmates after a school break.
  4. A friend just came back from taking a hard test.


  1. You are eating lunch with your classmates.
  2. You see someone playing with a Gameboy or some electronic toy.
  3. You see someone wearing a T-shirt that has the name of a school on it.
  4. You are in line at a movie theater and you see someone from school who is also on line.


  1. It's Friday before school lets out for the weekend and you are with your classmates.
  2. It's the end of the school day on Wednesday and you are saying goodbye to your friends.
  3. You overhear your friends talking about their school break plans.

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Social Skills Training for Children and Adolescents with Asperger Syndrome and Social-Communication Problems, by Jed E. Baker
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