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To Teach Social Skills, Educators Turn To TV

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A unique program at one Pennsylvania school is using the power of television news to teach social skills to youngsters with Asperger’s syndrome.

Students in the Asperger’s support program at Worrall Elementary School outside Philadelphia produce “Action 7 News,” using a green screen to bring everything from Major League Baseball to world events down to size.

While the kids have fun producing the broadcast, the program is pure therapy, say their teachers and therapists. Standing in front of a camera helps the students learn to speak clearly. It also gives them a chance to play back their reports and analyze their own presentation. Meanwhile, reporting also offers the kids an opportunity to understand that issues are not always black and white.

The program appears to be paying off. Once the students head to middle school, those with Asperger’s who’ve participated in “Action 7 News” are noticeably more capable socially than those who have not taken part, school officials say.

For the pint-size reporting staff, however, the best part of producing the newscast may be showing off their TV skills to the rest of the school. “I’ve never been this famous before,” one student told PBS.

Watch Reporting Live With Asperger’s From Elementary School on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

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