Duff's Social Detectives - 1

Introduction to Social Thinking compiled by Susan Carrick


Michelle Garcia Winner
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This book is highly recommended for families with a child who is strengthening his/her social smarts.

Winner of a 2012 Mom's Choice Award and a 2012 National Parenting Publications Award!

You are a Social Detective

by Michelle Garcia Winner and Pamela Crooke and illustrated by Kelly Knopp

Every one of us is a Social Detective. We are good Social Detectives when we use our eyes, ears, and brains to figure out what others are planning to do next or are presently doing and what they mean by their words and deeds. This entertaining comic book offers different ways that can be reviewed repeatedly with students to teach them how to develop their own social detective skills. Enjoy watching your students and kids blossom day-by-day into successful Social Detectives!

"It helped me on how to be a little smarter in front of people."
Victor, 9 years old

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Social thinking vocabulary keywords

School Smarts: Different types of "smarts" in our brains that we use for school learning. Things like math smarts, computer smarts, music smarts, science smarts, and many more.

Social Smarts: The type of "smarts" in our brains that we use whenever we are around other people. Social smarts help our brains to know that others are having thoughts about us and we are having thoughts about them. We use social smarts in school, at home, and EVERYWHERE!

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What is Social Thinking?

Social thinking is what we do when we interact with people: we think about them. And how we think about people affects how we behave, which in turn affects how others respond to us, which in turn affects our own emotions.

Whether we are with friends, sending an email, in a classroom or at the we take in the thoughts, emotions and intentions of the people we are interacting with.

Most of us have developed our communications sense from birth onwards, steadily observing and acquiring social information and learning how to respond to people. Because social thinking is an intuitive process, we usually take it for granted.

But for many individuals, this process is anything but natural. And this often has nothing to do with conventional measures of intelligence.

In fact, many people score high on IQ and standardized tests, yet do not intuitively learn the nuances of social communication and interaction.

While these challenges are commonly experienced by individuals with autism spectrum disorders (high-functioning), social communication disorder, Asperger's, ADHD, nonverbal learning disability (NLD) and similar diagnoses, children and adults experiencing social learning difficulties often have received no diagnosis.

A treatment framework and curriculum developed by Michelle Garcia Winner targets improving individual social thinking abilities, regardless of diagnostic label. Professionals and parents alike are using these methods to build social thinking and related skills in students and adults. Social Thinking books, workshops and trainings, created by Winner or based on Winner's work, now offer a range of strategies that address individual strengths and weaknesses in processing social information.

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.

Social thinking is: you + me = we

Using social smarts means ...

understanding that others have thoughts about us and we have thoughts about them.

Social thinkers are demonstrate awareness that people think about how other people behave (expected AND unexpected behavior)

We figure out how to behave based on where we are and what we are expected to do at that time.

Theory of Mind - our thoughts are not always the same as others thoughts

theory of mind.mov

Sharing negative thoughts

As a role model for our children, we may tend to share only positive thoughts about others and ignore others unexpected behaviors. Because our children with social thinking deficits have difficulty interpreting others thoughts we may need to verbally share our thoughts about others, even when they are negative. The purpose of this is to develop their awareness of how others think as well as to provide the words that describe the thoughts of others.

Our daily lives are filled with situations that demonstrate poor social thinking. We typically ignore them but they actually can be wonderful "teachable moments" for our children who need to strengthen their social thinking. For example, we could share our thoughts privately with our children when we observe these "unexpected behaviors" in others:

a toddler throwing a temper tantrum in the grocery store because the Mom didn't buy gum or candy

people talking loudly in the doctor's office, museum or library

a child at the park who told another child to "shut up"

people talking during a religious service

Eating Loudly Next To People Studying
Aspergers Decoded - Autism Spectrum Disorder and Theory of Mind ( Aspergers Syndrome )