At the heart of the ICONz Program are nine images (visual cues) representing key social concepts – self-regulation, verbal communication, reciprocity, flexibility, compromise, etc. – that most of us learn naturally as children, use without thinking as adults, and assume others use them as well. For many people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other social deficits, these concepts are neither obvious nor understandable. This results in behavior that can negatively impact social, academic, and employment adjustment.
The ICONz concepts and images are strategically embedded throughout age-appropriate social stories contained in curricula that are written specifically for middle and high school students and young adults. The stories describe everyday situations; the characters intentionally use the ICONz concepts to understand and respond to the situations. They use the ICONz to guide their behavior toward successful outcomes. The characters also experience negative outcomes when they do not use the ICONz.
In conjunction with the curricula, discussions led by a trained “Helper” or Certified ICONz Provider™ help students and clients learn to recognize, generalize and then use the ICONz in their daily lives. They learn how using the ICONz can result in their own positive outcomes. In groups or individually, clients and students report that the stories reflect the challenges they face every day. By learning and using the ICONz, they come to understand and address the social problems that plague their lives.