As a speech language pathologist, I treat many children and adults with social cognitive learning challenges. Many individuals with varying diagnoses struggle with pragmatic language skills that impact their ability to build strong relationships with their peers and interact with others in their environment. Diagnoses such as Autism, genetic syndromes, ADHD, ODD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), Tourette Syndrome and other varying disabilities can have a strong impact on an individual’s ability to interact appropriately with others. For a child that presents with appropriate pragmatic language skills, it can be challenging to understand why another child can’t simply start a conversation and interact appropriately. Teaching these skills can be challenging and finding the right tool that is motivating and engaging can be the key in improving these weak areas of pragmatic language for many individuals.
What is Social Thinking? “Social Thinking is a treatment framework and curriculum developed by Michelle Garcia Winner that targets how to enhance and improve social thinking abilities, regardless of diagnostic label (often there isn’t a diagnosis). Professionals and parents alike are using these methods to build social thinking and related social skills. Social Thinking concepts and strategies are designed for people with social learning challenges with near average to way above average language skills and IQ. The teachings of Social Thinking also are widely used to help educate parents and professionals as to how to systemize and teach about information that we traditionally have never taught before. Given the explicit nature of these social emotional teachings, they are also being adopted for use with all students to encourage improved social problem solving.” To learn more about what Social Thinking is, click here.
I love the framework of Social Thinking because it helps teach social skills in a way that is motivating and engaging for a variety of children, teenagers and adults. Social Thinking also offers a variety of products for varying ages, language abilities and level of social cognitive deficits. I wanted to review a variety of products below. I am highlighting Social Detective app that provides video modeling and comprehension questions, a Superflex curriculum and Thinking about You Thinking about Me, which teaches perspective thinking and gives a comprehensive introduction to Social Thinking.
Social Detective has 3 different levels with social skills videos and related questions. The app was based off of the book, You Are a Social Detective. Social Detective App is interactive and helps teach children with Autism, Asperger’s and other special needs on how to be functionally appropriate within everyday situations. I think the app can also be helpful for children who are typical because all children have situations where they may have acted inappropriately and need cues or modeling from a caregiver, therapist, etc. All of the videos include situations that highly occurring for a variety of children (e.g. a child not wanting to take a turn, a child speaking out of turn, cafeteria scenes, classroom scenes, etc). When you begin the app, you choose an avatar and then have the opportunity to learn about social smarts. When you are done with the pretest, each video is presented with a question. For example, one question in the first pretest for expected and unexpected behavior displayed two children who are invading each other’s personal space. The question asks “Is this expected or unexpected behavior?” This can be an ideal opportunity to talk about “giving people space” and how a person might feel if you are too close to them. To learn more about this app and how to use it effectively with your child at home, click here. To see the full review of this product, click here. To download the app, click here.
Superflex, A Superhero Social Thinking Curriculum is a “curriculum that can provide a teaching tool to help children learn about their social behavior and strategies on how to regulate it”. Superflex takes on Rock Brain and the Team of the Unthinkables begins with a description of how Social Town is in shambles due to the disappearance of Superflex, the town’s popular superhero.When a boy named Aiden is playing with his dog outside, his dog miraculously catches the Superflex’s brain sensor. The brain sensor will help bring Social Thinking back to Social Town. The sensor will turn Aiden into Superflex making him a flexible thinker that can save Social Town and beat the Unthinkables. Also included in the beginning of the book is the cast of the Unthinkables. Each character is named after their inappropriate behavior (e.g. space invader who invades people’s personal space).With Superflex takes on Rock Brain and the Team of the Unthinkables, your child will be so engaged in the story, they won’t even know they are working on using appropriate social skills. An excellent book for both children with special needs and typical needs. To see the full review of this product, click here. To purchase the Superflex curriculum, click here.
Thinking about You Thinking about Me is an excellent guide to begin learning about social interaction and social awareness. The author, Michelle Garcia Winner takes the reader through the importance of learning how to have perspective on others and provides specific lessons to be used in a variety of settings. The chapters are divided by assessment, perspective taking, the key to perspective taking, the 4 steps to communication, social behavior mapping, IEP’s and social behavior, standardized assessments and the social thinking dynamic assessment protocol. Thinking about You Thinking about Me also provides the reader with drawings, handouts and other visual representations to help understand and implement Social Thinking with others. To purchase this book, click here.
Check out any upcoming conferences around the world here. Are you interested in learning more tips to implement Social Thinking in your home? To read my post about the conference I recently attended plus more product reviews, click here.