Thursday, April 5, 2012

Social Thinking: Michelle Garcia Conference

My husband went to a conference by  the amazing Michelle Garcia  last week where she talked about Social Thinking

I did a Q& A with him on  this very important topic and thought it you would find it useful too .

 This post has been written for  Hopeful Parents

 What is social thinking?
Social thinking is a term coined by Michelle Garcia Winner an SLP and she defines it as ‘The ability to consider own and others thoughts, emotions, beliefs, intentions, knowledge, etc. to help interpret and respond to the information in your mind and possibly through your social behavioral interactions.’ 

Basically it means to be able to read social cues of others and react appropriately. 

This comes naturally to neurotypical kiddos where shared attention and intention leads to the development of Theory of Mind, which can be put simply as:
I Know
I know I know
I know You Know
I know You Know I know

What did Michelle Garcia’s conference consider to be the biggest challenges for children on the spectrum as they grow up?

MG feels that a number of challenges in the social sphere especially in the older children and adults can be traced back to undeveloped social thinking as a young child.

Older children have trouble with peer interactions, working in a group having fruitful discussions and being able to look at the whole picture. Adults have problems that arise in the workplace and relationship matters like dating etc.

R is a child with many good social relationships with adults but none with peers ?What were the top things that you would use for a child in R’s stage ?

R has strong relationships with us and other adults but it is primarily one sided. He is smart and knows that adults are useful beings that can provide him with the things he wants. He unfortunately hasn’t felt the need to develop a relationship with peers, which should change, as he grows older.

At his stage R needs to develop an interest in our interests – I mean he has now to realize that mama and papa have their own different thought and begin to show interest by observing us. Also at the same time realize that we know what he knows and so he doesn’t have to keep telling us the same information.

Basically at this stage we have to focus on creating joint attention, which is more than simply having eye contact. He has to be taught to see what the other person is seeing and then based on that develop the ability to figure out what the person is thinking. Finally using this to have an appropriate response in a conversation.

As R develops socially what would you want to implement in his home therapy program?

As R grows older I would like to develop increasingly interactive activities, one on one or small group, where he can be trained to look at and understand social cues and nuances (Michelle calls it listening with your eyes and brains) and then interpreting them to exhibit appropriate social behavior.

Other interesting things you would like to share and/or
anything you learned that surprised you ?

I think the most interesting thing was that we should look beyond simply memorizing skills to developing capacity. Just making eye contact should not be the goal but use it to listen to what the other persons eyes are saying.  The focus needs to be on the trunk instead of the leaves of the Social learning tree 


Yuji said...

Very interesting topic! I see the same things as R in my son. I would like for him to develop an interest in our interests, but it isn't always easy to accomplish. I'll be doing more research to learn more, but as you explore this more yourselves, I'd love to know what techniques are effective in training your son how to look at and understand social cues.

Þorgerður said...

We are working on theory of mind as well and I find that a mixture of cognitive approach and social opportunities are working best together... but sigh I am learning what works for Sturla... it is a hands on learning for both of us. Took a long while too clear the pronoun confusion so that I know you know I know and they know because I had to be sure he knew I knew and not that you know the other way around ...and it makes my head spin.
I hope your write more about how this goes. :)

Stories Untold said...

You seem to be able to read my mind all the time. Incidentally I have been thinking of where to find resources for Social Language communication, and you served it to me right on a silver platter!

You are my fairy God friend!!!!

Floortime Lite Mama said...

I am so delighted that this helped you

Barbara said...

This information is very useful and you and DH are good at sharing it in an understandable way. At the same time I personally think these are tough concepts for most people. I have to work to understand it. I 'think' that is what Þorgerður said...and I reiterate "I hope you write more about how this goes. :)"

Barbara said...

I'm going to take a stab at interpretation of the definition of Theory of Mind as given here.

DH responds that R needs to learn I know you know. But what shows R can I know I know? Is the definition given here developmental? That is, must the levels be learned in order?

Thanks for your thoughts.

Floortime Lite Mama said...

Great questions Dr Barb
I am going to ask DH to comment on this
one thing we are working on as we are still in very early stages with R is "what is Papa looking at ?"
And we are making it very easy for him
Example DH will keep a pencil right in front of his eye
So its easy for R to answer "papa is looking at a pencil"
Similarly his therapists are doing this in their reading comprehension - asking what each character is feeling

Floortime Lite Mama said...

Yuji, Porgerdour and Stories untold - I am actually going to write more as we learn more
This conference was really more of an introduction and not really a training

Deb said...

Thank you so much for this! I have heard about Social Thinking before but didn't know much about it..this helps me understand a little better. This is very interesting!

Li said...

Hi K, I saw that you stopped by my blog to say hi so I thought I'd stop by and say hi back at you! Things are good. We are enrolling our son in kindergarten and feeling good because we found a nice, small school with resources on-site that's an easy commute to our apartment. Lucky us!

Lizbeth said...

We use social stories all the time as they impart the basic, fundamental information that my son needs that is often lacking as others seem to "get" the nuances of social situations that are just not part of my son's interpretation. They give him the information he needs.

Anonymous said...

Very informative post, thank you for sharing! We're having a little trouble with that so I'm happy to have read this now...

Kris said...

This sounds similar to some of the principles we learned about in RDI. Very interesting!

Kris said...

This sounds similar to some of the concepts we learned about in RDI. Very interesting!

Tameika Meadows, BCBA, Blog Author said...

I love the "islands of sameness approach"! Even if its something small, like every day at 3:00 the child has a snack of Doritos...continue that while on vacation so the child gets a little bit of home, while being far away.

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