Think Social written by Michelle Garcia Winner is a book that belongs to the category – ‘Some books are worth their weight in Gold’. In this book, Michelle describes her world famous ‘Social thinking’ curriculum, that builds on the foundation of her earlier book, Helpful Books – Thinking About You Thinking About Me .
To quote the author, this book ‘helps in teaching Social thinking and related skills to students with High functioning Autism, PDD-NOS, Asperger syndrome, Nonverbal learning disability, ADHD and for all others in the murky gray area of Social thinking.’ With many nonverbal children communicating effectively with assisted technology, this book is useful for all those on the wide Autism spectrum, and not just high functioning kids.
Part 1 of this book is Introduction and briefly explains the philosophy behind this curriculum and how to go about implementing it. It also introduces the 4 steps of communication :
- Thinking about the people in your communicative space
- Establishing physical presence ( body in the group, shoulders turned to the group,etc.)
- Using your eyes to think about others and
- Using language to establish and maintain our communication with others.
Part 2 talks about the Goal ideas for each social thinking section. Part 3 is the heart of the book and has eight sections, each section discusses in detail an aspect of this curriculum with numerous suggestions and excellent references. Let’s take a look :
Section 1 is Being part of the group and recognizing expectations, has lessons on expected and unexpected behaviour in a group, our behaviour impacts the feelings of those around us, problem solving,etc.
Section 2 is Our whole body and mind help us be part of the group and has lessons on listening with your whole body, using our brains to think about others, etc.
Section 3 is Self-awareness and self-monitoring our behaviour in a group and has lessons on Just Me versus thinking of you, is your body and brain in the group or out of the group, good thoughts/weird thoughts, etc.
Section 4 is Starting detective agency – learning more about observing others has lessons on becoming a detective, reading people’s emotions, etc.
Section 5 is The super detective agency – figuring out what people mean by what they say and has lessons on comparing body language and spoken language, comparing literal and figurative language, learning about idioms, etc.
Section 6 is Adjusting out participation and language based on what other people are thinking, imagining and wondering and has lessons on sharing an imagination, social wonder, building language-relatedness skills, etc.
Section 7 is Our language makes others have different thoughts and feelings and has lessons on Friend files, asking people questions about themselves, social curiosity, using follow-up questions and supporting comments, how long is too long to talk, rude interruptions versus acceptable interruptions, exploring thoughts and feelings of others using shared and unshared experiences and many many more. This is my favourite section of the book!
Section 8 is There is still so much more to teach and has lessons on hidden rules, personal problem solving and the size of the problem, anxiety, stress, executive function deficits, etc.
The free CD included has has comprehensive goals and standards. The bibliography at the end of the book has some excellent suggestion for resources useful in teaching Social thinking curriculum.
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