The Green Zone Conversation Book – Joel Shaul
I think I would have gotten on a bit better at school if I had been given a book like this to help me relate to my peers. Even now I know I have a tendency to just talk at people, or only want to talk about things that interest me. If someone has written an adult version of this book, I would like to read it.
This book starts by highlighting the fact that other people have different interests to each other, and then goes straight into the “Green Zone” that the book is based around. Essentially the Green Zone is when two people find they share an interest in common and can both talk equally in that area.
Talking in the Green Zone is important. It’s the main reason people talk to each other. It’s also called “finding things in common”.
Then it moves on to discuss interests a bit more, such as how they can change from person to person and even within the same person over time. Within this section is an “Interest Finder” which is a very structured approach to finding out what other people like, and questions you can ask to show you’re interested. I will admit when I looked at it at first, I did not think much of the page as it is not really a useful tool for social situations. Then I realised that it was probably intended to practice with someone else prior to social situations. Then I glanced at the questions, which probably seem really obvious to some people, I realised I barely ever asked them. So I made a note to ask some of them during a conversation later that day and it actually did improve the conversation.
The rest of the book looks across the three Zones: The No Zone, The Green Zone, and the Bright Green Zone. I’m not found of the name the “No Zone”, I think choosing a neutral colour would have been preferable because some autistic students I have worked with are very sensitive to the word “No”. The No Zone is when you are talking about an interest that the other party has no interest in, we have already seen the Green Zone, and the Bright Green Zone is when you let someone else talk about something you have no interest in. I wish this section had spent time pointing out that sometimes you will be in the Bright Green Zone, but that it is also expected that your friends would spend time in their own Bright Green Zone and listen to your interests. It seems a little geared towards the autistic person making the compromise.
There is a short section on typical and unusual or special interests, which explains that people do not necessarily want to discuss your special interest all the time and then gives some examples of Questions, Compliments and Comments. The rest of the book is largely activities and worksheets to support the book – as well as advice for adults to ensure that they do not approach it in a way that makes the child or teenager feel like their interests are bad.
Well, I took something out of it as an adult. I know that my social/communication skills can be poor at times and I do work on them, so some of the advice in this book would be useful for a student with similar needs. In all honesty, some of the activities in this book could be used in a PSHE lesson so that autistic students wouldn’t feel singled out.
Value for money?
RRP seems to be around £15 – which could be worth it if this is an area your child has difficulty in and wants to work on. It has more value in a school setting where multiple people can use it.