START is welcoming Michelle Garcia Winner, Founder & CEO of Social Thinking, as one of the keynote speakers at the 18th Annual START Conference on April 29, 2019. The following excerpt was reprinted with permission from Social Thinking. This excerpt originally appeared in START Connecting in April 2019.
What does it mean to teach “social skills”? Ask 10 people and you’ll probably get 10 different answers. There appears to be no collective agreement as to how to define it. You might notice that people tend to define what they can observe. As a result, treatment tends to focus on teaching a defined social behavior that an individual is expected to demonstrate without learning to problem solve when and why to use this skill.
The Social Thinking Methodology takes a more expansive view. We look to the research on social, language and cognitive development, social competencies as well as various other factors that impact how people feel and think about themselves and others.
Social competencies begin with attending to and then interpreting the social world, and then using this information to problem solve and make decisions from which we form our social responses. Our social responses are the output of this process and are meant to encourage people to think and feel about us in the manner we had hoped. The four-step process defined through our Social Thinking Social Competency Model is also a four-step social emotional teaching pathway. This pathway is developmental and engages our own and others’ feelings and perspectives, while also helping us self-monitor how people think and feel about us as much as we think and feel about them.
Consider how you are teaching social competencies. It’s so much more than teaching social skills.