Social Thinking is our innate ability to apply information to succeed in situations that require social knowledge. Social intelligence is the critical cornerstone in building relationships, being organized, and effectively solving problems. This requires integrating socially relevant information across a broad range of settings: academic, home and community.
Social thinking is required prior to the development of social skills. Successful social thinkers consider the points of view, emotions, thoughts, beliefs, prior knowledge and intentions of others (this is often called perspective-taking or considering the perspectives of others).
Our teaching emphasizes the use of strategies designed to support individual strengths and weaknesses in processing social information. We provide ongoing social learning services, generally in small groups, for ages preschool through adulthood. On some occasions we see students individually. Using specifically designed curriculum and dynamic coaching, we intentionally teach to each individual’s needs, strengths, and unique styles of learning.
For most of us this is an intuitive process. We can determine the meanings behind the messages communicated by others and how to respond to them within milliseconds to three seconds! Social thinking occurs everywhere, when we talk, share space, walk down the street, even when we read a novel and relate to our pets. It is an intelligence that integrates information across home, school, work and community settings and it’s something we usually take for granted! In typically developing brains, social thinking is hard-wired at birth and learned intuitively from infancy onward.
Most of us develop our communication skills as we grow-up, steadily observing and acquiring social information and learning how to respond to the people around us. But many people have great difficulties with this process. This is a challenge for individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome, High-Functioning Autism, ADHD, PTSD and other social and communication challenges that may not attract a label.
Many people can score high on IQ and standardized tests and have quite limited social skills. In fact, the research published by the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders indicates that Social Thinking methodologies are successful at teaching the ability to interact socially in people with social limitations who have near-normal to way above-normal intelligence. In addition, the Social Thinking strategies that have helped children and adolescents have also helped adults. Because social thinking is so important to learning throughout life, professionals and parents are using social thinking methods to assist an increasingly broad range of individuals.
Research is beginning to support the effectiveness of teaching Social Thinking. The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders published a report on methodologies specifically addressing weaknesses in the social thinking process, finding that they are successful at teaching the ability to interact socially in people with social limitations who have near-normal to way above-normal intelligence.
About Face! Social Skills™ Program
The About Face! Social Skills Program™ is an after school program designed to improve social, communication and conversation skills in school aged children and adolescents. Made up of different modules, the About Face! Social Skills Program™ covers all the essential elements of becoming socially aware and a good and skilled communicator.
Run by a qualified and experienced Speech Pathologist, each module is run with a minimum of two children (maximum 3-4), although in some circumstances a child may complete part or all of a program on their own. Each group meets once a week for 8 weeks.
The About Face! Social Skills Program™ has been specifically designed for children and adolescents with: Asperger's Syndrome, High Functioning Autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), and Non-Verbal Learning Disability (NVLD). It is also suitable for children who need extra guidance in improving their communication, social and/or friendship skills. Children are grouped according to their age, developmental level, and specific needs. Children attending the groups should have basic language and verbal communication skills to get the most out of the program.
Why are Social Skills So Important?
Social skills impact on every part of our lives. They seem innate for many, but this is not always the case for many children and adolescents, particularly those with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Since social skills are fundamental in life success, it is vital that these children learn and practise these social rules to compensate for what does not come naturally to them.
What Skills are taught?
The various skills taught are reinforced through structured social skill building activities and games, guided role play, Social Stories™, video presentations, modeling and other activities. We also use the Cognitive Affective Training (CAT) kit in our program. Information sheets for parents and caregivers are distributed at the end of each session. They detail the goals of the session and suggestions for further practise and reinforcement techniques. Topics presented in each module include, but are not limited to the following: