Navigating Life as we Know It

Special 4. The Art of Conversation via Chat Chains

July 14, 2021 Steven Johnson, Kerry Johnson, Anton Shcherbakov Season 2 Episode 0
Navigating Life as we Know It
Special 4. The Art of Conversation via Chat Chains
Chapters
Navigating Life as we Know It
Special 4. The Art of Conversation via Chat Chains
Jul 14, 2021 Season 2 Episode 0
Steven Johnson, Kerry Johnson, Anton Shcherbakov

We're back and we've got a new trick! NLAWKI Returns a couple weeks ahead of our OFFICIAL SEASON 2 START DATE with a special release about a new way to learn conversation skills - CHAT CHAINS! Check out the links below and make sure you tune in to our official Season 2 startup on the 28th of July!

Most neurotypical individuals learn to communicate naturally as we grow and mature both verbally and through body language. Individuals with autism and various other developmental disabilities face a greater challenge. Overcoming these expressive challenges is often critical to obtaining their other goals of a full life, like self-advocacy, employment, developing friendships, and living more independently.

One of the most fun and effective ways of learning new skills is through game playing… but many games are created to produce one winner…and many losers. Chat Chains is a game that helps players learn how to engage in more effective conversations and deepen relationships between the players so that all can enjoy “the thrill of victory” without “the agony of defeat.”

You can purchase the game from Amazon here
Stop by ThinkPsych's Website Here

Show Notes Transcript

We're back and we've got a new trick! NLAWKI Returns a couple weeks ahead of our OFFICIAL SEASON 2 START DATE with a special release about a new way to learn conversation skills - CHAT CHAINS! Check out the links below and make sure you tune in to our official Season 2 startup on the 28th of July!

Most neurotypical individuals learn to communicate naturally as we grow and mature both verbally and through body language. Individuals with autism and various other developmental disabilities face a greater challenge. Overcoming these expressive challenges is often critical to obtaining their other goals of a full life, like self-advocacy, employment, developing friendships, and living more independently.

One of the most fun and effective ways of learning new skills is through game playing… but many games are created to produce one winner…and many losers. Chat Chains is a game that helps players learn how to engage in more effective conversations and deepen relationships between the players so that all can enjoy “the thrill of victory” without “the agony of defeat.”

You can purchase the game from Amazon here
Stop by ThinkPsych's Website Here

Steve:

Hi, this is Steve Johnson, your host with navigating life as we know it.

Kerry Johnson:

And I'm Kerry Johnson co host.

Steve:

Today our guest is Dr. Anton Shcherbakov,

Kerry Johnson:

Steve, how did you meet or hear about Dr. Anton Shcherbakov?

Steve:

What a good question. Thank you for asking. Actually, I found him by accident. I was looking through my email and I found a Kickstarter request for the production of a game, which is designed to help enhance the communication skills of people that have autism, and other developmental disabilities. And I thought, Well, that sounds interesting.

Kerry Johnson:

Very.

Steve:

So I looked into it, and I find out how the game works, basically, and I thought I can support that. So I signed up to receive one. Then I also thought, gee, I want to talk with Dr. Shcherbakov. And so I sent him an email and he was gracious enough to say, Yeah, let's do it.

Kerry Johnson:

Great. Let's get to it.

Steve:

Hi, this is Steve Johnson with navigating life as we know it, and I am here today talking with Dr. Anton Shcherbakov. He's a licensed practicing psychologist. He received his bachelor's degree in psychology and his doctorate in clinical psychology from Rutgers University. Dr. Shcherbakov specializes in assessments and consultation for individuals with autism spectrum disorder in clinic, home and school settings. He has also provided training for professional development to teachers, psychologists on topics ranging from using mindfulness for reducing stress in the classroom, to management of challenging behavior, and 2019. Thinkpsych was created with a simple vision to provide the highest quality educational products rooted in science of psychology to children everywhere. Dr. Shcherbakov also teaches classes to graduate students and clinical psychology as a part time lecturer at Rutgers University. He works in private practice providing psychotherapy to children, adolescents and adults at the Center for emotional health in Greater Philadelphia. Dr. Shcherbakov, Welcome to navigating life as we know it.

Anton Shcherbakov:

Yes, thank you for having me, Steve, it's really nice to be here.

Steve:

We are here to learn about a new social emotional game should be live on Amazon, we hope by mid or the end of May. Okay, the name of the game is chat chains. But first, I want to hear a little bit about your practice. And we'll kind of go into chat chains, what it is, how it came about how it works, etc. So tell us a little bit about your practice. Sure. So I guess let me kind of start. I don't want to say at the beginning, but maybe let's say in the middle, okay. You know, I've always had a really strong interest in autism spectrum disorders. It's something that you know, runs in my family. And so it's something that I knew I kind of wanted to be a big part of my career. And so, you know, throughout my graduate training, I picked up in addition to being a licensed psychologist and I board certification, behavior analysis, and I really spent a lot of time working with individuals on the spectrum. You know, it's sort of ranged from different settings, like, you know, an out of district school placement called the Douglas Developmental Disabilities center. I worked in people's homes where I'd supervise the provision of ABA or Applied Behavior Analysis Services. You know, I also worked with individuals with autism and individual therapy. And so I sort of, you know, worked with that group of individuals for quite a long time and a lot of different settings. These days, my practice has shifted somewhat and that, you know, generally, in terms of providing therapy, it's just from the office. So see people for individual therapy at the Center for emotional health. I work with individuals on the autism spectrum, as well as specializing and treating ADHD, obsessive compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, trichotillomania, which is a hair pulling disorder as well as threat disorder. Those are all some of My clinical specialties. And yeah, you know, as you said, I work with individuals, you know, starting as young as four or five and you know, up through whatever age they they knock on our door, so to speak. The Center for emotional health is located in Philadelphia, is that where you're located also. So it's not quite Philadelphia, it's Greater Philadelphia. So we're in we have two locations. One is in Cherry Hill, which is like a suburb, I'd say maybe 15 or 20 minutes outside of Philadelphia, on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River. And we also have an office in Princeton, New Jersey, not too far from Princeton University. And I'm personally I'm located sort of in between those two, two offices, like, back when we were seeing people in person, I was spending a little time at both offices. Well, we might get back here again soon. Let's hope.

Anton Shcherbakov:

I hope so. Yes

Steve:

I'm tired of this. You mentioned the word mindfulness and working with students, particularly in the schools. And that's gained a lot of traction in the last couple last couple decades in America. And I know a number of people that practice mindful meditation in have had really good results from it. How does that work for people living on the spectrum? Sure. So you know, actually, you know, being honest, I'm not sure how much research actually has looked at if there are any differences. And, you know, the usefulness of mindfulness for individuals on the spectrum versus more in neurotypical populations. But, you know, my experience suggests that, you know, if someone is struggling with anxiety, or depression, you know, regardless of whether they're on the spectrum or not, mindfulness can really be a great tool to help them, you know, center and focus, you know, on the present moment, which is really what mindfulness is all about, right? For all of us, we can spend so much time last, you know, ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. And so mindfulness is really just developing the skill of being present in the moment. And so, you know, I think that's one of the reasons it's caused so much traction recently is because it has just such broad applicability. The way that I see it, so much of our psychological suffering comes from not being present, right, the present moment usually isn't all that bad. It's usually not as bad as the future we imagine, or the past that we, you know, regret. And so it's, you know, it's something I really love. And, you know, I've incorporated into my own daily life, not to mention, you know, my professional practice. Yeah, I think we spend way too much time time traveling backer, or, you know, reliving conversations out, we should have said it, or fearing what might be coming up in the future. And it does take an awful lot of energy and a lot of a lot of attention away from the present. Absolutely. What is think, psych? And how did that come to be? Sure, thank you for asking. So, you know, as I sort of said, in my intro there, you know, I spent a lot of time either doing applied behavior analysis, ABA, or supervising the provision of ABA by others. And for a few years after graduate school, I was doing a lot of in Home Services. So, you know, I was coming into, you know, people's homes who had you know, newly diagnosed kids on the spectrum, and they were receiving ABA services, and I was supervising those. And the continual problem that I kept running into was just that there were no good materials that were commercially available for people to use to teach their kids the language. You know, traditionally, this problem has been solved in schools by teachers just printing out, you know, reams of paper and then laminating them to create durable pictures that they could use and you know, language instruction with the kid. But at the home, the only stuff out there is you know, exactly what you think of when you imagine flashcards. You know, they're really thin pieces of paper. And, you know, for those of you that have experienced with, you know, three, four or five year olds, those sorts of materials don't last very long. You know, we'd buy a set of flashcards and they would be destroyed and you know, just a couple of days typically, you know, they just be ripped up or bitten or who knows what, and so I really set out to create a set of flashcards that were you know, based and evidence based practices and also really durable Those are my two guiding principles for creating this product that I wanted to make and so you know, I found that things like to really start creating well this first set of products and then I had other products in mind for the future as well. And so the the flashcards that we created, we call them you know, language learning cards, they're really really thick if you put you know, let's say three business cards together, that's about how thick the cards are. You really can't rip them or bend them or you know, you can buy them but nothing much will happen to them. And we also offer customers you know, a one year guarantee so that if anything happens to them, they get read, destroyed, lost will replace them. That was a really big, you know, mile Stone, I think for me for the company is developing this product that was really durable. And then also aligned with, you know, best practices. So just simple things like having three pictures for each word that's included in the set that is so important, right? You can't just teach your kid that you know what an apple is by having one picture of an apple. Why? Because apples come in all sorts of different colors true or, you know, think about cats or dogs. How can you show someone a picture of one cat and say, This is what cats look like? No, they don't. They look all sorts of different ways. Right? So that's just, you know, some of the things that kind of inspired first the company and then specifically that line of products, the language learning cards. And we've since expanded that line to include, you know, a set of nouns instead of verbs. And we have a new set of what we're calling advanced nouns coming out as well. And probably the next couple of months, I'll take two months, there was a question I had, because I noticed you have on your web page, it's level one, first knowns. And I thought, if you have a level one and implies a level two, or level three. That's right. Yeah. So you know, we create I created the level one with the intention of like, you know, if your child is just starting to learn words, right, whether it's receptive or expressive language, meaning understanding where their speaking word, you know, these set of 50 words are going to be perfect, right, but what's next, right, you need materials, you need new words to learn after that. And so the forthcoming set the level to advanced nouns will be, you know, more unusual words that help to round out, you know, child's vocabulary, right? There's, you know, koala should not be one of the first words that a child learn, right? You know, it should be up there, because qualities are awesome. Not to mention more functional things like, you know, different sorts of foods like hot dogs and burgers, right? Those are things that we want kids to know, but aren't necessarily maybe the first words that we teach them. Correct. You know, it's interesting, because my son now is 32. But he's principally, he's got autism and cerebral palsy and a seizure disorder. But I'd say the serious one is the autism. Because being in a wheelchair, wheelchair user, does not really restrict you an awful lot. But the autism does restrict you can separate you from other people and communicating. But we had those cards, teacher meet up and laminated, so I know exactly what you're talking about. You're lucky if they went through, you know, a semester before they got all wrinkled up, and D laminated and just just a mess. So I'm sure parents would appreciate having a very durable card to be able to use in learning language. Great idea. Thank you. And yeah, that's, you know, that's really the the feedback that we've gotten from, you know, from our customers from parents, just the outpouring of positive feedback has been so encouraging and, you know, energizing for me, because, you know, it was definitely a big step to make that transition from direct service, to creating products. But, you know, seeing that I can help so many people in this way, even though, you know, you know, flashcards aren't going to change the world. I don't pretend they will. But even in this small way, you know, how pretty strict people have been has been so exciting and rewarding? Well, it does make the process of changing the word a little bit easier. You got the right tools. That's right. I like to know a little bit more about your inspiration for chat chains. And I have not seen this yet. I do have it on order, I guess I'm one of the first ones to get it. And I'm anticipating it. It looks from the pictures you have posted to be it quite interesting way to relate. And I think it's brilliant, initially, because you're engaging in a game, which is part of the whole issue. You're having communications and learning more about communication. So tell us how you decided to create this change? Absolutely. Thank you. And yes, we're hoping to ship out the, the sets of the games to our Kickstarter backers. Next week. It's looking like it's processing through our partner warehouse now. We're really excited about that. Get your hands on that. But yeah, let me tell you about kind of where it all started. So, you know, like I said, you know, I've spent a lot of my career thus far working with individuals on the spectrum. And of course, social skills is always something that comes up right because, you know, social deficits are really one of the key, you know, symptoms of autism, you know, whether it's difficulty making friends or keeping friends or, you know, doing small talk having more meaningful conversation. That's something that's really, really hard for a lot of individuals on the spectrum. And so, you know, I've done a lot of social skills groups, I've done a lot of social skills instruction on one on one therapy, and I've helped you know, create lesson plans for teachers in schools. And one of the, you know, things that I kept coming back to time and time, again, is that they're just not any great tools to use for teaching social skills, right? There's like individual kind of like materials and handouts and things like that. But, you know, when I think of the best way to get kids to learn something without realizing they're learning something, it's games, right? games are such an important way that we actually, you know, all of us, right, whether you're typically developing or neurodivergent, or whatever, you know, we learned things through games, right. And so, you know, I thought this was such a great opportunity to try to create a game that was not only going to be fun, but also educational, and really targeted towards teaching these social skills. And so that was kind of the idea. And it's something that's been bouncing around in my head for quite a while. And then, you know, in the middle of last year, you know, probably, I would say, we started talking about it in June and really started to, you know, the idea started to form more clearly, in August or September, I partnered with one of my former, my former colleagues, the current colleague, Dr. Rebecca Schulman, we actually went to graduate school together, and we trained at the Douglas developmental disability Center at Rutgers together, and so she was a good friend, as well, as a colleague, we sort of work together to try to develop this game that, you know, first of all, would be fun, that kids would be eager to play, you know, parents, teachers, therapists would be eager to play because it was fun, but also was really focused on developing conversation skills, you know, I would say specifically, and just social skills more broadly. And so, you know, we work through a lot of different ideas, thinking about what was most important for us to focus in on, and a few things, you know, really came to the forefront. The first is we really wanted to help kids talk about things that matter. Like, that was our number one, I would say, our most important goal. Because, you know, so many of the conversations that kids have these days are really just surface level, right? They don't tend to talk as often about things that are like important to them that are deeply meaningful or upsetting or painful, right. And so the game was really geared up promoting these sort of conversations. The second is we really wanted to teach, you know, the components. And this is kind of an idea from behavior analysis, as well as educate the research and education as well as, you know, trying to really show the components of a conversation to kids. So in the game players form a chat chain, where they, you know, start by picking a topic, and then they put together questions and answers to form a chain that is, you know, a visual representation of a conversation. And this hopefully helps to show kids like, Oh, you know, this is what a conversation is about. It's about taking these turns, right, asking a question, answering a question, making a statement asking an open ended question. So that kind of visual demonstration of the components was really important to us. And then the third component, which also comes from our background, and ABA, is really this focus on nonverbal behaviors that are so important, and, you know, keeping a conversation going, and also, you know, communicating through our body language interest to our communication partners. So things like, you know, eye contact, you know, body language, using an appropriate volume of voice, all of those sorts of things are really critical to being an effective communication partner. And so they're emphasized in the game. So it might have been a slightly longer answer than you were looking for. No, that's excellent. I figured I'd lay the whole thing out. I did notice from the picture that some of the cards, there's like, 135, there's numbers on them, and they seem to have increasing degree of difficulty. So how does how does that play into it? Yeah, so again, coming back to that first goal of you know, promoting deeper and more emotionally vulnerable conversation, the cards, the topic cards are organized into three levels. The level one, which gives you 1.2 the chain is, you know, really, sort of surface level fun conversation, like, you know, what are your favorite pizza topics? What games do you like to play? So, you know, those are fine conversation topics when you're starting out, right, but not really where we're trying to get folks to. Then there are five point cards and those are, you know, topics that ask people to talk about, they're generally more positive or you know, like happy, proud types of feelings which are a little bit easier to talk about. They're still promoting closeness and emotional intimacy. But they're not, you know, as vulnerable or difficult to talk about. And then finally, you know, really the ones that we're trying to push players towards, are the 10 point cards, right? Those are the ones that ask about things like, you know, talk about a time that you were really scared, or what something that made you sad, or, you know, talk about a time that you felt jealous, right? Those are questions that conversation topics that are quite a bit more difficult to talk about. And so you get more points towards the chat chain by picking them and then just allowed one other component to, you know, we have four different types of response cards. So I'm building that chain, you can use broadly either questions or answers, right. But we have two types of questions simple yes, or no questions like, do you like pizza? to more open ended deeper questions like, you know, what are some of your favorite foods? That's a better question. So that earns two points rather than one right? open ended, it promotes conversation more effectively. And a similar thing for answers where we get one point for simple answers, and two points for more detailed, descriptive answers as well in a conversation. So and the person with the nomos most points at the end is the winner. Yeah, so great question. So this was one of our early challenges in kind of conceptualizing the game, right? It's, you know, games, in my opinion, are most fun, when there's a competitive element to them. A conversation is really about cooperation, right? It wouldn't be, you know, it wouldn't be a very good conversation, if one person was just trying to get all the points by, you know, continuously, you know, putting in as many questions as possible, just, you know, shooting the other person with like, 10 questions in a row, so they could get the most points. So there's two components to the game, the way the scores work. So there's a team score for the round, right? You're trying to work together to build the biggest chain that you can write, let's go for, you know, 50 point chain, let's go for 100 point chain, you know, How big can we how long to make this conversation go. So that's the cooperative element. And then with each within each round, there is also a competitive element, because we designate a top chatter. And that's the person that has earned the most points, perhaps by, you know, asking more open ended questions, perhaps by earning some bonus points for, you know, their body language, their nonverbal communication style, and that sort of thing. So it's, it's got a little bit of both. And, you know, we were hoping there to strike that balance between having kids work together, while also, you know, trying to, you know, have some of the fun of having their own score to the chase. So you could also win as a team. After all, you're trying to build social skills. It's not all competition. Yeah, and we do include some rules to make sure that, you know, no one person can like dominate a conversation. So it's not just one sided. Obviously, that wouldn't be effective social skills, either. So you know, players are in the regular rule set, limited to only putting down a maximum of two cards. So they can, let's say, answer the question that was posed to them, and then give a follow up question, right? Or they can just choose the answer and not ask a question or just ask a question, right? Those are all different kind of permutations that they can choose. You had mentioned on a video chat last week that you and Dr. Schulman who have played this game, have to test it out somehow. And if it isn't fun for you, it probably won't be fun for anybody else. Have you actually witnessed other people playing this game yet? Yes, absolutely. It's on a beta test, the play test that we actually did was one of our colleagues is, was by the time we were getting ready to do the Kickstarter was actually doing in person social skills groups. And so she used the the game in her group, and you know, just really positive feedback from the kid. A few of our, you know, quotes from kids on our Kickstarter actually came from, from that group. We've done that as well as just playing with our friends. I've also played a modified version of it virtually with kids in my therapy practice, you know, because I'm currently only seeing people for therapy virtually, you know, they don't have access to all the cards, but we've been using the topic cards to spark conversation sort of keeping points based on you know, like, if you pick, you know, a purple card and you answer it, you get 10 points versus if you get, you know, pick one of the easier questions, you only get one or five points. And what I've been amazed by is one the kids love this way more than I expected, and I thought they would like it. You know, they will be asking you to play the game session after session. I'm like, Gotta do other stuff too. And you hit a home run there. And, yeah, it's been really rewarding to see that. And what was I gonna say? Oh, and they tend to steer towards the more difficult questions pretty consistently, like getting that 10 points for answering a hard question has been really motivating to my clients so far. And I can imagine it being kind of satisfying for someone who has had thoughts, and now they have a great venue and in a format in which to express some of those thoughts or answer those questions. is, it's, uh, you know, in the age of COVID, when everything has been isolation, it's amazing that card games and board games have become a lot more popular. I've seen more than than stories. I think your timing is excellent. But I think this is timeless, because it's for an audience, which has the social skill deficits. Do you have any objectives for creating chat chains that were especially challenging to adapt to a card game? Hmm, good question. You know, I think probably the hardest balance that we had to strike was between, you know, keeping it fun versus keeping it, you know, educational and having that, you know, therapeutic quality to it. You know, it's the first time I played this game was with my wife, with Dr. Shulman and her husband as well. And, you know, their initial reaction was like, Ah, this game is so hard. I don't want to talk about these things. I said, Well, yeah, that's the point. Because, you know, for some of the questions that are asked in the game are really difficult to talk about, right. They're emotionally vulnerable. And so, you know, I think, you know, people will hopefully find their own kind of balance in terms of which kind of questions they like to pick when they're, when they're playing the game. Because just doing the strategy of, you know, let's pick the most difficult emotionally draining questions is going to lead you to be exhausted. And, you know, that won't be a very fun round of gameplay, if you're doing that just round after round after round. You know, so I think that's definitely one one challenge that we were trying to keep our eye on. And so we, we made sure to include a lot of fun questions to break it up. So it's not all just so serious all the time. Have you seen a difference in the body language that players would exhibit? Because they're part of this game, that it's an largely verbal and asking questions and engaging. But you know, body language, of course, is a huge amount of communication. I just wondering, it'd be hard. I might, when I thought about that question. I thought, Well, how do you put body language in a card game? It's a little bit more difficult, but it might create the environment for them to use body language better for communication? I'm speculating here. Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, as players see another player, let's say earning a bonus card for really good eye contact, and like, oh, okay, that's something that I could really focus on, and the next round, right, and if it's in like a therapeutic setting, or even a parent and a child, like, you can say, you know, Hey, Mark, I really want you to try to focus on keeping a good volume for when you're talking today. You know, some kids talk too quietly, some kids talk too loud, and you know, I want because I want you to earn that bonus card for that. Right. So I think seeing, you know, other players earning those things, setting that as the intention, you know, for for those of us that are fortunate to have, you know, just that natural ability for social skills, we often take this stuff for granted, we don't even think much about it, like you, when you're playing a card game and someone's talking to you, you probably, you know, naturally look them in the eyes, right as they're talking. But for many folks on the spectrum that's really difficult or uncomfortable or not second nature, right. And so having this as, like, reward that they can earn, can be a really nice sort of encouragement for that. We really have this well thought out, it sounds like you've covered a lot of bases on it. And I can see where be a fun game, whether you have autism or not. Especially if you're trying to get to know somebody new, put them on the spot with the difficult questions. You know, that's a great point. Like we initially were kind of, you know, seeing this as something that's geared towards individuals on the spectrum. And as we kind of, you know, kept developing it and play testing it, we realized it's really isn't limited to any particular group of individuals. I mean, frankly, many of the kids that I see in my practice who, you know, don't have autism would still really benefit and I think enjoy playing the game because, you know, especially after a year Arif COVID, and just communicating via zoom and Skype and things like that, I think, you know, many of our social skills are lacking these days. Well, they haven't been tested. They haven't been honed very much yet. But I mean, just it's, it's a part of having a developmental disability that makes you separates you from neurotypical people that, in itself makes it a challenge to develop and use social skills. So even if it's not autism, some with cerebral palsy, who is not used to having those kind of communications with individuals could find is very helpful. I think it's got a wide application. Autism spectrum is obviously very wide and very complex in huge differences and ability. What bandwidth in terms of level one, two, or three, or intellectual ability or capabilities with this apply to is is more like in the middle range? My son doesn't talk so hard to play this game with him. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. That's a you know, it's a great question. I mean, as a, you know, as a psychologist as a bcba, I'm always thinking about priorities, right? Yeah. So the very first priority for any individuals to be able to communicate their basic wants and their needs, right. So you know, as an absolute minimum, an individual should be able to do that, if we're not, then social skills are kind of a moot point, right? If you can't re I'm hungry, I'm thirsty, you know, I need to go to the bathroom. But this, this is not developmentally appropriate. Beyond that, you know, I would say, you know, once an individual seems to have, you know, some interest in developing social skills, and, you know, communication abilities, but I would say, you know, we, we kind of label the game as being intended for ages eight and up, I think slightly younger kids could, could play it on. And certainly, I think much, much older kids and adults would enjoy it as well. But, you know, thinking about an individual that has, you know, cognitive slash language functioning, that somewhere around that level, I would say would be, you know, the target audience. And, you know, for individuals who can't communicate verbally, there's no reason why this game couldn't be used with something like, Pax or an augmentative, alternative communication, device, sign language, right. And if an individual has those modalities through which to communicate, this game is, you know, entirely compatible with that. But yeah, I would, you know, in terms of priorities, see social skills as being you know, after, you know, basic communication needs are met. And after, you know, basic life, slash self care skills are sort of there, then I think we can really start thinking about whether, you know, social skills is the right area of intervention for an individual. But and the way the questions are asked, I can see where it can cover a wide range of age, whether they're in their 20s or 14 years older, or eight years old, you can answer some of these questions at any level, which makes it very, very adaptable. Yeah, what? I send a copy to my mom to get her thoughts, because, you know, you know, I value her opinion on these things. And she said, This is awesome. I can't wait to talk about these things with you. She She wanted me to include in our Kickstarter write up that this is really good for jogging memory for elderly people. Wow, let's take that if you will. Okay. I'm that audience. I'm 69. I think I need that. Very cool. Because right, it asks you to reflect on things on past experiences. And so she, you know, there's definitely value in that quite often, I've seen other games come out. And then then later on, there is a update or vision or alternate cards that are offered. Do you see anything like that for chat chains? I think, you know, we definitely want to create assuming the card, you know, sorry, assuming the game continues to be as successful as it has been so far on a Kickstarter platform. I mean, we definitely want to create expansion sets of conversation starters for people. You know, everything is going digital these days. And so you know, if it makes sense for us to have invest the time and money we would love to have like a digital version of the game that people could play. I think that would be a really great and we also got a lot of requests to translate into different languages. That's great, whether it was Italian or Spanish. grad one person asked to have a translate into Japanese. You know, that's something that we would love to do. You know, my experience suggests that you know, when there is a lack of products for any particular area in the US market, Oftentimes that lack is even more pronounced than, you know, in other in other countries. Because we, you know, we have, we are the world's largest marketplace, I think. Yeah. And so I think there's a lot of opportunities to spread some of this value to other countries as well. So let me ask for the benefit of anybody listening who's interested, how does one order this game, it will be available on Amazon probably in the middle of May or the end of May, depending on you know, how things go with the with the shipping and the warehouse processing and all that. But probably the easiest way to find us would just be to go to think psych calm, so www that think, you know, like T h, i n k, and then psych as in psychology, p s, YEH calm, and you can just go to the store there, and we have a waitlist where you can sign up to be notified as soon as it's available. Do you have anything else in mind for the next game? Yes, I imagine you have some ideas. So well, you know, one of the things that we did is we were creating chat chain. So you know, really diving into the social emotional learning literature and kind of looking at the market and seeing what else is out there and what's not out there. And one thing that we have been really thinking about that we want to do is creating a game that really focuses on teaching kids empathy, right, or perspective taking or theory of mind, as it's sometimes called in the autism literature. We think this would be, you know, such a cool thing to work on, as a follow up to catching, you know, the really teaching kids to reflect on, you know, why would someone do something? Why is someone doing something? How do they feel when they're in this situation? I think that's such an important thing. And, you know, we want to apply the same sort of model to it, where there's maybe a cooperative and a competitive competitive element as well, where, you know, you can earn points for being a really good mind reader, right? None of us are perfect mind readers, right? You know, we want to cultivate that skill for our kids as much as we can. You know, it's probably cliche to say this at this point, but you know, we've been brought together so much by technology, in some ways, and in other ways, you know, it's just such a startling lack of empathy and understanding of one another. In this time that we're living in, it's, it's really disheartening in a lot of ways. I'm sure it's at the center of an awful lot of social illnesses, inability to Yes, indeed, to talk things over and compromise and find reasonable solutions. We don't think about what the other person has in mind or how they see the issue. So I great, that sounds like a great game. So when you start the Kickstarter for that, I'll be first in line. Thank you, well, we definitely appreciate your support already. And, you know, we're, we're very excited for you to get the game and to give us your your feedback on it. The other thing, I was gonna say action in terms of future directions for chatting, we, you know, we're really excited to hear you know, what people think because it gets into the hands of more more individuals, and so tweak it and make it, you know, as more and more useful as we can. And I'm glad you did this, and I'm glad that you consented to be interviewed for the podcast. We will get this out to our people. And I'm hoping it's through some business for you because I think it's a great tool. Is there anything else you'd like to add to leave us with any words of wisdom? Oh, words of wisdom. Yeah. All right. That's something again, as, as the father of a newborn, well, I guess infant at this point, he's three months old, he's about as old as fat chain those? Yeah, I guess, you know, the best was done that I have to offer at this point is just, you know, I don't know time with our kids is so fleeting, right? Even in these three short months, I've seen how much she's grown and developed and he has a lot more to go but you know, anytime we can set aside to talk to our kids to ask them these types of questions that we have in chat chains and really get to know them. I think it's time that such well spent you know, so it's, again, probably a cliche to say it but you know, treasure that time with your kids even when they're being you know, little nudges and waking you up at three o'clock in the morning. You really want to sleep because you work at eight o'clock in the morning. Yeah, you know, you're you only have that time once and well i'll tell you as much as you can. Our baby is 32 years old, and the oldest is significantly older than that. Got a widespread an age and they do grow up extremely fast. And for those people who are upset because the baby wakes them up in the middle of the night. Some day, 20 years now you wish you could go back to that time and have them wake you up again, see this trait, cherish where you are. This is part of the mindfulness, you're in the moment, enjoy it, it's a gift. It might not feel like it, but it's a gift. I want to thank you very much. We'll be in touch. I'll let you know when I play that game and give you some feedback on it. Thank you for being with us today. Yeah, thank you for having me on. And I look forward to connecting more in the future.

Kerry Johnson:

Hi, this is Kerry. And this is the chat cafe portion of our program. And I'm here with my co host, Steve, to kind of recap the interview with Dr. Anton chirper. cough.

Steve:

Yeah, it was a really an interesting discussion. It's a very interesting game that he has co produced with his partner. And I think that there's many things here that can be very useful for our young individuals with developmental disabilities, and particularly those with autism.

Kerry Johnson:

Some of the social skills are hard to practice, and this is a great way for that to happen.

Steve:

And in preparation for this, we actually got the game and we play the game in Tell me about what you feel you experienced when we play that game?

Kerry Johnson:

Well, when we played it, I felt that the instructions were a little bit cumbersome. When I heard Dr. Shcherbakov explain it, it was much more sensible to me.

Steve:

So sometimes when you're reading something for the first time, and we don't really have the concept of how it works, I think we go back and look at the instructions again, after we've played it. It'd be more intuitive. It's it's designed for people aged eight and older. And all of a sudden felt like I was six when we started. Because it's funny,

Kerry Johnson:

you know, when we we started doing the very basic, we just did, you know, topic one, which was the least and you know things and so it. And it was interesting, because I I really felt like we were Stumbling on continuing. We were

Steve:

struggling to have a conversation we would have normally any day but we're doing it according to these cards. And it was hard. It was I mean, I got from that what it must be like if if someone has autism and has a really difficult time expressing themselves. I have no idea what that's what they're really experiencing. But I was having a hard time putting thoughts together to follow these prompt questions of the chain. So it was it was difficult. And some of them do ask you questions that requires some insight. And then then the response to that, which again, we do normally naturally. But we're trying to do that according to these cards, and an almost made it a disabling experience for us at the time. And this is no criticism, I think it's the game is put together excellently to give you those prompts, and to get people to respond and show them the appropriate way to respond. But since we do it naturally, it's it's difficult. It's like right, it was a manual on how to ride a bike when you already know how to ride a bike. Right, I think, yeah, that that's a good analogy. That's again, a little bit odd.

Kerry Johnson:

Just Just to let folks know that, you know, the the second, third and fourth rounds went Yes, sir. Yeah, because at first I was like, wait, we want to do the what? It's a who who do what? Okay, do that? Oh, wait, did you do that? No, it was a that. Was that a question? Or was that a comment? I think that was a question. Okay, take that garden. So at first, it was a long conversation. But once we just we just continued we plugged in and plugged away.

Steve:

I think they call that a learning curve.

Kerry Johnson:

Could be could be but I just I really thought it was very interesting. And I did see where it could most assuredly promote deeper and more meaningful conversations

Steve:

in particularly, you know, Dr. Turbo cough had mentioned in the interview that there was three basic goals. One is to explore deeper and emotionally vulnerable conversations. That is the cards with the highest level of points, they ask you questions that don't require a yes or no but require you to tell something about yourself. Yep. And also that it helps show the different components of a conversation. One person can ask a question, and then you can follow up with a question or just provide an answer. But I don't think that someone who has a lack of verbal skills understands the rapport that goes back and forth in a categorization so it kind of lays out the different parts of the

Kerry Johnson:

Yes, yeah, because you can comment on and you choose a topic and then they they read this topic. And then the person who has chosen it will make a comment or regarding it right, and then the next person comments or answers, and then can ask a question also, to clarify. So it was interesting that we can have both of those going on. And it's, it's teaching that. And I thought that was really very, very good. It was

Steve:

the absolute quote, a lot of thought into this. And then the third component there was explore nonverbal communications communications occur because of a facial expression or eye contact, many things again, that a person on the ASD spectrum would have some difficulty with or could have some difficulty with. So it's encouraging that kind of communication also, right was very holistic and awaited, encourages and, and supports conversation,

Kerry Johnson:

right? And those are, those are cards that are the basically the judges cards. And so I thought that was interesting. I did not know that those were from ABA button. As soon as he said it was like, hella, that makes sense. Because it was like, you know, you're using an appropriate voice. Did you do whole body listening, and things of that nature.

Steve:

But like I said, it's very much like taking something we take for granted because of this conversational skill we have developed. Sometimes they don't work too good for me, but, but taking the and then dissecting it into the parts, and it really makes you slow down. And think about what you're doing. Yes. And I'm just wondering, because we have what three people playing this game? Yes. What happens if you got five? That can be even more interesting when other people are coming into it, too. Because when we have three people, one is the judge and two are having a conversation. But what?

Kerry Johnson:

Well, no, we had, we had four because one was a judge and three words. Three, and that was a little weird, because you weren't really directing your question to a single person, you might have started with the topic. But if it was somebody else's term, I couldn't ask you the question. I had to just ask a general question. And so it was it you really had to think a little bit about that. I

Steve:

would say it's a good thing. It's a good thing and it makes it fun. And I can see where he said that many of the people he works with asked to play the game. Yeah, they're probably getting very good at it and and I just feel like I've got to gain some competence with it myself. So again, we will post on our on our show notes, the link to get to where the game is offered for sale. Yep. And also to Dr. Anton

Kerry Johnson:

did mention that it was on Amazon.

Steve:

Yes, that can buy through Amazon. Okay. There you can buy it through him. And if you have Amazon smiles, of course, you can benefit a nonprofit organization you can look up on Amazon and see how you can direct dollars to do that. Yep. called thing to make your money work for you. Any more comments that you had and the conversation and our game experience.

Kerry Johnson:

I just wanted to mention that I, I really appreciated that mindfulness is a part of what Dr. Anton explores with his individuals with everybody. Having that in my life has been a really a very wonderful thing. And being present in the moment is really very important.

Steve:

It does really help on I swear that it helps it blood pressure, respiration and everything you practice it. One quote I liked from that was that mindfulness is the present isn't as bad as the future we imagine where the past we regret. Right? And that's why the present is something we should stay with. Yeah. And certainly that can help people that have autism, because of all the anxiety and the angst and everything else that goes on living in a neurotypical world with all right, I gotta be stressful now.

Kerry Johnson:

And my final comment is that koalas are

Steve:

awesome. koalas are awesome. Yes, they are. Well, thank you all very much for listening. And when Till next time, we wish you a good day. Absolutely.

Alex Johnson:

Thank you for tuning in to navigating life as we know your hosts have been Steve and Kerry Johnson. Alexander Stark, aka me is your producer and editor. Holly Johnson maintains our website and helps write our blog articles. And Daniela Munoz helps with research outreach and social media. We couldn't do what we do without every person here, including you, our listeners who give us the most important thing of all purpose until next time, NLAWKI is a production of Envision Media Group, LLC.