By Wendy Rice, Psy.D. Licensed Psychologist
Recently, I attended the 8th Annual Social Thinking Global Provider’s Conference in San Francisco and it was a game changer for me.
Way back when I learned about teaching “social skills” I often found that kids and adults who learned such “skills” came across as stilted and unnatural. They also weren’t sure how to adapt their behavior to changing contexts and situations or didn’t even know that context was a consideration. Further, skills that were appropriate when they were younger required significant adjustment as they grew up.
Since then, I have wanted to teach people how to think about social situations and interactions so that they could be flexible and think on their feet about how to behave and respond. It certainly sounded like a good idea but the social world is extremely complex and can be quite unpredictable so I was never sure how to do this most effectively.
Enter: Social Thinking.
A few months ago, I happened upon the book “You are a Social Detective” and card game “Should I? or Shouldn’t I? What would Others Think?” and have been hooked ever since. It teaches kids and parents concepts such as “thinking with your eyes” and why others might have uncomfortable thoughts about us if we act in “unexpected” ways.
And now, after attending the conference and meeting Michelle Garcia Winner, founder of SocialThinking.com, and Carol Gray, founder of Social Stories, I get the big picture. I have shared the material from the conference with the other psychologists at RPG and we can now all share it with our clients in a more thoughtful and effective way.
I have wonderful tools, and a terrific network of professionals to confer with so that our group is better equipped to teach perspective taking and flexible thinking to clients who struggle with social thinking and interpersonal relationships.
While I could write endlessly about this topic, nobody does it better than Michelle Garcia Winner in her article Introduction to Social Thinking. Please take a look, because there is a wealth of information and products available on their website.
We would love your feedback too. What are your thoughts regarding teaching social skills? Share in the comments below.