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This presentation represents work and materials that have evolved in a quest to address social skills instruction as it relates to social thinking concepts. These concepts have been used with elementary and middle school students on the autism spectrum in a classroom, small group, and summer program. By utilizing Social Thinking® concepts, school based technology and creatively approaching instructional materials, this team makes it work for their students, staff, and families.
Social skills include a set of guidelines that are not generally taught, they are assumed. Typical students entering kindergarten have basic social thinking abilities (a solid social operating system-Michelle Garcia Winner). These include knowing others have thoughts different from theirs, knowing that they can learn by watching others, knowing what nonverbal information to look for, knowing what verbal communication needs to be attended to related to the teacher and knowing how to use social thinking® skills to regulate their own behavior in groups. Individuals with autism typically do not have these set of skills and these skills have to be explicitly taught through direct instruction. Specifically students with Higher Functioning autism/Asperger Syndrome need to be taught the “Why” behind learning social skills and how it directly applies to them.
Instruction in Social Thinking®, in order to be meaningful and promote generalization, needs to be collaboration between teachers, therapists, parents, and other professionals. The strategies, materials and activities that will be presented to develop social thinking® are supported in the literature related to theory of mind, central coherence, and flexible thinking. In addition, adaptations of current evidenced based Social Thinking® curricula will be presented, identifying the key components and supporting each of the key components with teacher-made adaptations using visual supports, assistive technology, and interactive whiteboards.
Content Area: Social Skills
Laura Haratine, M.Ed., BCBA
Audubon Park Elementary School
Kimberly Coppola, M.Ed.
Autism Resource Teacher
Thornebrooke Elementary School
Marijane Bethel, M.S., CCC-SLP
Speech and Language Pathologist
Orange County Public Schools