Social Thinking with Michelle Garcia Winner

June 28, 2016

Here at Milestones we work toward building social skills and nurturing the ability to take another person’s perspective and see their point of view. This skill is not an easy one to understand or acquire but, with the help from Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking, we are making great strides in this area. In case you are looking for a quick overview of her work on Social Thinking, here is a synopsis of her work.

Who is Michelle Garcia Winner?

Michelle Garcia Winner is a Congressional-award winning speech-language pathologist who specializes in treating students who are experiencing social and communication challenges. The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders published research supporting her Social Thinking approach for high-functioning autism and Asperser syndrome and her methods have assisted students with other diagnoses, such as ADHD, and those who have no diagnosis.

What is Social Thinking?

Social thinking is something that most of us take for granted. It is generally an intuitive process that allows us to consider the points of view, emotions, and intentions of others. In neurotypical people, social thinking is hard-wired neurologically at birth and learned intuitively from infancy. Children with autism spectrum disorders do not intuitively learn social information the way neurotypical children do. For those with ASD and related social learning challenges who are “higher functioning”, we have to cognitively teach them how to think socially and understand the use of related social skills.

How Does Social Thinking Work?

The Social Thinking treatment approach requires students to learn to recognize when they and others are expected to think socially, and to respond with specific behaviors based on what they know about the people, the situation, and the implied expectations. We use social thinking and related skills not only when we are interacting, but also when sitting quietly in the presence of others, social problem solving, etc. This type of thinking is used in all aspects of life – at play, in the classroom, with social relationships, at work, and in the community.

How Can You Learn More about Social Learning?  There are many resources out there including conferences, books and internet sources.  Michelle Garcia Winner’s site can be a great help in learning more about this methodology.