Book Review: The Incredible 5-Point Scale

The Incredible 5-Point Scale by Kari Dunn Baron and Mitzi Curtis is a great resource for people to use in a school setting, a social group setting or at home. It can be used to address a number of different issues, and it’s a great resource for working not only with kids on the spectrum, but for all kids who need a little extra teaching around social and emotional concerns.

“The objective of the 5-Point Scale is to teach social and emotional information in a concrete, systematic and non-judging way. Students who have poor skills in the areas of social thinking or emotional regulation often exhibit challenging behaviors, particularly when facing difficult social situations. In the scale, teachers and parents have a simple, yet effective way to teach social rules and expectations, and, along with the individual who has ASD, problem-solve behavioral responses of others, troubleshoot past and future social scenarios and create plans for self-management (Baron & Curtis, 2012)”

volume of voice by Encourage Play

The beauty of the 5-Point Scale is it’s versatility. The scale goes from 1 to 5, one being the lowest severity and five being the highest severity.  The 5-Point Scale can be used in so many different ways with so many different feelings, emotions and behaviors. You can use it to talk about expected volume of voice, anxiety, anger or stress. The volume of voice scale is a great tool to use to help kids understand what volume of voice to use in what location.

You can talk through what each point on the scale means, and have the child practice what each one would be like. For younger kids, you can even adapt the scale by reducing it to 3 levels (1,3 and 5).

You can also use the scale on a more individualized level, identifying what happens for your child at each stage of the scale. You can also add more sections to the scale, not only identifying the behaviors, but then also identifying what your child can do at each point, with the overall goal of getting calm and being able to interact positively.  Here is a great example of this:

A couple of years ago, I worked with a child who had created a 5-Point Scale for his anxiety level. Not only did he identify what it looked like when he was anxious at the different levels, but he also identified different strategies he could try at each level to help reduce his anxiety.

my anxiety scale by Encourage Play

It was a phenomenal tool for him to use during the school day. His teachers knew what to look for, and what to do when they saw certain behaviors. I kept a couple of packs of gum in my desk in case he needed it. Occasionally he did need it, but just having the gum would help him reset and he would be able to regroup and join the classroom after a few minutes.


Have you ever used the 5-Point Scale?


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