18th Annual START Conference: Breaking the Social Code

Session Descriptions & Materials


Michelle Garcia Winner

Developing Social Competencies: Social Thinking®, Social Learning & Becoming a Social Detective

Michelle Garcia Winner, M.A., CCC-SLP, Founder & CEO of Social Thinking

  • Description: Social skills utilized in mainstream classrooms are not typically sets of memorized behaviors. Instead they are the result of a process which actively engages social information processing. For students with social learning challenges who also have solid to high level expressive language and academic abilities, such as those eligible for services due to ASD, ADHD, specific language impairment, hearing impairment and behavioral issues, it is important to teach them how to think socially. Doing so fosters their development of executive functioning and related social competencies, including but not limited to the production of social skills. This keynote will introduce the Social Thinking® Social Competency Model to highlight four key elements necessary for improving one’s social learning and related social responses: social attention, active interpretation of self versus others, social problem solving to decide how to respond. With this information as our backdrop, select Social Thinking Vocabulary and related strategies will be taught to encourage younger students to further develop their social competencies by becoming social detectives and older students to become social spies. The Social Thinking® Methodology exposes students to the hidden social expectations that surround them, which  helps students develop social self-awareness and social self-regulation. The methodology has a wide range of teaching frameworks and strategies for students of all ages, including adults, some of which will be further explored in this keynote. Best teaching practices will be reviewed along with explanations for why we may want to focus on teaching our students to engage in social  “learning” rather than “generalization” and why “peer mentoring” encourages social learning more actively than “peer modeling.”

Jed Baker

Managing Frustration and Anxiety and Teaching Relevant Skills

Jed Baker, Ph.D., Director of Social Skills Training Project

  • Description: This presentation reviews key predictors of successful adult outcomes among students with special needs, including the awareness of strengths and challenges, perseverance, learning skills to accomplish realistic goals, and preventing disruptive behaviors. Although strengths can build careers, challenges can often interfere with opportunities. This presentation describes how to help individuals, caregivers, educators, and service providers handle meltdowns and design effective plans to prevent frustration and anxiety. The second part of the presentation details effective skill training strategies

Conference Information:


Please note: PowerPoints, handouts, and materials will be posted closer to the conference. Presentation handouts will be taken down 1 week after the conference. Printed materials will not be provided. Materials and handouts are subject to change.