My daughter and I watched many shows and movies talking our way through the entire thing, as my daughter had trouble following along. Finally, we got pretty organized about it, realizing that she was learning quite a bit about social interactions.

First, we watched Star Trek: Next Generation, which teaches social skills and understanding human interactions, especially in a family or close-knit group (Data is trying to learn to be human) with many plots to exemplify various human interactions from father-son, mother-son, mother-daughter, a crew following a leader they admire, etc.

Then we watched Babylon 5, which teaches making choices – and living with the consequences – also the “human condition,” social and community interactions, sacrificial love, etc. Great over-arching themes of good versus evil, the beautiful faces evil hides behind, how little decisions suck us into bigger bad decisions, etc.

Watching Stargate SG1 taught more of the same, plus figuring out humor, making choices, social interactions (T’ealc is trying to understand humans). I’ll never forget the day my daughter cried out, “Mom, Mom! Colonel O’Neill told a joke. I don’t know what it was, but I know he told a joke because he changed his face!” And inside, I was cheering, “Yes! Yes!”

Stargate Atlantis provided some fodder for the social skills grist mill also, as Rodney seems to have Asperger’s.

Lie to Me (we watched only the 1st season; 2nd started out weird and we quit watching it) is fantastic for teaching facial expressions and microexpressions in an incredible way as we talked about.

I changed how we watched these shows at various levels of my daughter’s development. At first, I stopped often to see if Kat was understanding what was going on and she often interrupted being confused and not following the plot.

I also paused at crucial moments and questioned her without giving things away. “How do you think he feels about what is happening right now?” and I wouldn’t tell her what the right answer was as far as recognizing someone’s emotions, although I might give her hints about who to look at. (In fact, she wouldn’t realize she’d gotten something wrong.)

I would explain the plot, though. But over the course of watching all these shows, she started to get it. I needed her to get it, rather than me point out the expressions each time. Somehow, it seemed to work.