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The Targetty Thing
The Targetty Thing | Workbook | Puppets | Board
No, its not a colourful time tunnel, its a tool for teaching the different sets of social rules that apply to different people in different situations.

EmbarassedSome children with autism may possess good communication skills and be keen to interact, but get the basic rules wrong.   They may talk openly to random strangers when out, start inappropriate topics of conversation or hug the wrong people.

The Targetty Thing (named by the first child I used it with) aims to help the child understand the different groups of people they may come into contact with, and the different social rules that apply to them.

The child is first presented with a workbook.   This has a page for each of the categories of people you wish to help the child understand.   For demonstration purposes, I'm going to use Family, Friends, People Who Help Us and Strangers.   On the Family page are pictures of the child's family, the child is encouraged to name them and write their names under their pictures.   Under the pictures are the rules associated with this group, and the child is encouraged to read these out.   The page is a specific colour, for the rest of the exercise this is the colour that represents that social group (in this case yellow means Family).
The Targetty Thing workbook.

The child then goes through the rest of the workbook, until they come to the final page, Strangers.   There are pictures of strangers there, with spaces for their names underneath.   Having already filled in three pages, the child thinks they know what to do.   Let them struggle for a moment as they realise they can't write the names in, then tell them its OK, they don't have to.   These people are strangers, you don't know their names.   That's how you know they are strangers.   Strangers are people who you don't know their names.

You then read out the rules for Strangers, before getting the puppets and the big board out.   The puppets are blank and have velcro on their faces.   In a box you have cut-out heads from the workbook.   The child attaches the cut-out of their head to one puppet.   You attach a random head from the workbook to the other puppet.   Your puppet moves towards the child's puppet and the child is asked to identify who it is.   I usually start with an easy one like Mummy.

The child then identifies what group the person is from (checking in the workbook if necessary).   They then read out the social rules for that group, with the puppets acting them out if you want.   The head from your puppet is then taken off and stuck on the board in the appropriate section.   You then introduce your next head.

The Targetty Thing Board
After the session, the child keeps the workbook and takes it home.   When you repeat the exercise, they are encouraged to read through the workbook but don't have to write the names in again.   After several sessions, you can randomly and with no warning introduce heads that aren't in the workbook, to allow the child to practice the logic they have learned.   They can also be supported to practice the logic outside the sessions when out and about.

In an advanced Targetty Thing session, we've asked the child to 'be someone else', to do the exercise from someone else's perspective to see how the relationships and therefore the rules change.