One of my career highlights has been as an invited speaker at the recent Social Thinking conference in Philadelphia. During their presentation,
Michelle Garcia Winner and Pam Crooke made a pointed effort to stress the
importance of working on foundational skills.
An example was given of a teacher who commented that she had completed
all the lessons in “Think Social” (a/k/a “The Big Red Book”) within one school
importance of frequently returning to foundational skills when working with
children with social-communication difficulties. As a matter-of-fact, including key concepts
in all sessions is extremely helpful. As
Michelle & Pam have pointed out, learning these abstract social concepts
takes repetition and patience.
critical social cognition skill. To make
this abstract concept more concrete, I developed the following lesson.
symbolize our “brains” and popsicle sticks to represent
comfortable/uncomfortable thoughts. For my younger clients, I
put my own spin on this and purchased inexpensive clear containers. On the outside of each, I attached laminated
photos of each person in the group ( I used headshots to focus on our
“brains”–that’s me and my assistant Michelle).
“brain bucket” to a shelf to show that they were thinking about the group. I added a large “thinking bubble” in the
background to symbolize how we are all “thinking about the group”. We discussed the “group plan” and I added
sticky notes to the group thinking bubble to illustrate.
(white & grey) and made these cute “thought” pillows (you can easily substitute construction paper squares):
thoughts and how someone’s expected/unexpected behaviors can cause you to have
a particular thought. On the back of
each pillow is a corresponding emotion face to convey the feelings the
behaviors are creating.
behavior the child responsible would put a “comfortable” thought pillow into my
“thinking bucket”. Likewise, if an
unexpected behavior occurred, the responsible child would put an “uncomfortable”
thought pillow into my “thinking bucket”.
the child to change my uncomfortable thought to a comfortable one by replacing
the corresponding pillow.
give input to their peers about expected/unexpected behaviors and how those
behaviors are making them think and feel.
One significant aspect that has emerged is the children’s ability to
self-monitor their behaviors. Not only
do they want to avoid causing uncomfortable thoughts/feelings in their peers,
but when “accidental “behaviors occur they want to self-correct!
tactile-kinesthetic nature of this activity—give it a try and let me know what you