This Conference Was a Winner!
I typically don't
use my blog to "advertise" a particular therapy approach or a speaker. I am
completely in favor of the "eclectic" approach to speech-language therapy. I
take bits and pieces from a variety of therapy
interventions/approaches/strategies and use what works best with my individual
students. However, I'm always open to new ideas, new approaches, and new
information. Never say never!
all the SLPs in my district attended a 2-day conference presented by Michelle
Garcia Winner. One day focused on the I
LAUGH Model of Social ThinkingTM, and the other was on Thinking About You
Thinking About MeTM with much focus spent on the Social Thinking-Social Communication
If you have not seen her present before and the
opportunity comes up, I highly recommend attending. Michelle is a dynamic speaker--she's full of
personality, humor, and countless interesting stories, making it very easy to
listen to her speak for two days! She
recognizes her own past mistakes when working with students and has learned
from them and adjusted her approach accordingly. Although Michelle has worked
in a clinic for many years, she was formerly "one of us"--a school-based SLP.
At my middle
school I exclusively work with students in the Autism Support program. These
students all have their own unique sets of strengths and challenges. I've been
using portions of Michelle's work in my therapy sessions over the last three
years (and actually have heard her speak in the past); however, I feel like I
walked away from the two days with lots of information, insight, and ideas.
could write about 10 blogs on what I learned and want to use with my students.
I'll limit it to the context of this blog and include some links related to the
list of take-away ideas, musings, and considerations after attending these two
- We need to
be more honest/more realistic with parents. Attending Autism Support classes
and receiving speech-language and occupational therapy for years will make
students improve in their individual skills, but the bottom line is, a child
who has ASD at age 8 will continue to show social communication challenges at
I've seen this with one of my own family members. He showed ASD characteristics
as early as age 3, has had therapy for many years, has made progress over the
years, but now at age 18, he still is a young adult with ASD. Our goal is to
improve a student's skills, but never to eliminate social-communicative
I have written in my notes that when teaching social skills, we are not teaching
to mastery (like we do for something such as articulation of specific sounds or
for expressive grammar skills). The ST-SCP
(see article) provides prognostic information based on a student's level in the
- We need to
focus more on global social communication issues rather than on specific,
individual skills. Michelle has a great, free article about The
Social Thinking-Social Learning Tree© (see link) which addresses this
very issue. We have to work on "root"
and "trunk" skills instead of focusing on the "leaves." This is very insightful
and very different from what our students' goals often reflect.
- It's ok to
use worksheets in therapy! I've used worksheets in social skills groups over
the years, and for some reason, I always feel guilty about doing so. I always
reflect back on the session and think, "How can I be addressing social skills
when we're doing worksheets rather than being social?" Thank you Michelle for
eliminating my self-imposed guilt in this area!
- Working on
social language skills isn't easy! It's ok to admit that it isn't easy! We have
the difficult job of taking something that is very abstract (and something we
learn without direct instruction) and making it concrete for our students.
for students with ASD is often a bit of a challenge; however, when looking at
academic standards, almost all of them can be tied to social language skills in
I could go
on and on, but I won't. If you are not familiar with Michelle Garcia Winner's
work, please check out her website: www.socialthinking.com. There's tons of information, articles, and blog entries. You can even "friend" Social Thinking on
Facebook to access even more information.
How many of
you have heard Winner speak? Have you been incorporating Social Thinking into
your work with school-aged students with ASD? Feel free to comment on ADVANCE's
blog or Facebook page!