The term Social Thinking
was coined by Michelle Garcia Winner in the late 1990s.
this term has revolutionized the teaching of
social skills, since true social skills appear to evolve from one’s THINKING about
how one wants to be PERCEIVED by others. So, the decision to use discrete social skills (e.g.
standing casually versus formally etc.) are not based on MEMORIZING specific social rules (as often taught in
our social skills groups), but instead are based on a social DECISION- MAKING
tree of thought that involves dynamic and synergistic PROCESSING.
suggested we could better understand multidimensional social learning needs by
exploring the many different aspects of social INFORMATION and related
RESPONSES that are expected in order for us
to be considered as having “good social skills”.
The ability to think socially
is required PRIOR to the production of social skills. As children age up, successful
social thinkers are able to consider the points of view, emotions, thoughts,
beliefs, prior knowledge and INTENTIONS of others (this is often called
perspective-taking). For most people, this is an intuitive process whereby we
DETERMINE the meaning behind the message and how to RESPOND within
Social Thinking occurs everywhere, when we talk, share space,
walk down the street, even when we read a novel and relate to our pets. It is
an intelligence that integrates information across home, work and community
settings. Social Thinking also demonstrates the link between one’s social
learning abilities and his or her related ability (or disability) when
processing and responding to school curriculum based in the use of the social
mind (e.g., reading comprehension of literature, some aspects of written
Winner's ideas related to teaching social thinking, which
are all based on the research, are the conceptual foundation for developing
treatments for those with social challenges. Winner and colleagues argue that
individuals who share a diagnostic label (e.g., ASPERGER SYNDROME) nonetheless
exhibit extremely different social learning traits, or social mind profiles,
and should have unique treatment trajectories, such as those based ON
EVIDENCED- BASED COGNITIVE-BEHAVIORAL (CBT).
For the adolescent with
advanced cognitive and language skills, a discussion about the “why” underlying
the production of a skill becomes crucial, a number of teaching scaffolds have
been developed to encourage students to explore how “we all get along” with one
another, even when relating to someone we do not know well. Individuals are
taught that thinking about the social world can in turn help him/her to adapt
behaviors in an increasingly proficient manner.
While Social Thinking is relatively new in the field of autism and special education, it is closely linked with other types of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy approaches such as Social Stories, (Gray) Hidden Curriculum, ]5-point scale, (Dunn) ]and others. The foundation of Social Thinking is weighted heavily in well-known issues in this population such as executive functioning, central coherence issues, and perspective taking, only a handful of research has been completed to date.
THINKING AFFECTS BEHAVIOR. Without the more abstract, how/why, pieces of social thinking, persons with social cognitive challenges struggle to communicate and interact in an age-appropriate and expected manner. This creates enormous challenges in their day-to-day relationships, especially when those around them do not understand their core difficulties.
~ The Legacy he shared with us lives on ~A Tax-Exempt Non-Profit
“The Ryan Hummel Holtje Memorial Fund for Mentoring” funds activities in which struggling kids with similar issues & interests are brought together for fun, making friends, & learning about social thinking, navigating life & developing a self-awareness about their unique strengths & gifts.