“Teaching “social skills” is not enough – individuals with social-cognitive challenges must learn the why and the how of their own and others’ abilities to process social information – a capacity that for most of us is intuitive, but needs to be explicitly taught to some.”
(Social Thinking, 2014*)
Social cues can be hazy and complicated at the best of times, and often get passed over in the academic school environment.
This summer at the FDC, in coordination with Mindquest, we guided young learners to social success with our groups Superflex and Knowing Me-Understanding You. The groups were based on Michelle Garcia Winner’s work which, “illuminates the often elusive and intangible world of Social Thinking”. Students who were previously uncertain with or confused by social information processing, were taught new ways of seeing and interpreting the ‘secret’ to successful interactions. Using the analogies of a ‘Superflexible Hero’, and training to be a ‘Social Detective’ helped students learn to better understand and manage their social lives. The students challenged themselves by exploring the how and why of their own and others’ behaviors, as well as ways they might change the behaviors for the better.
The students in Superflex were encouraged to challenge each other to apply the strategies we’d learned, rather than falling back on the routine reactions that were often causing issues. Their openness, caring, and willingness to try something new, when so many other suggestions may not have worked in the past, really exemplified bravery and touched us all. We recently stumbled upon this video which we feel reflects the messages of the Superflex class. Often these students, and indeed each of us, simply needs someone to ‘get in our corner’. Our challenge to the students was to be that person for their friends and most importantly themselves.
As we progressed we saw the students build stronger social bonds and cultivate their self-awareness. As we learned: one person can in fact make a difference in the lives of others, not to mention their own. Though it may seem small or insignificant, the difference to the person whose life is enhanced is often much greater than we expect, and we may find our empathy becoming its own reward.
If you’re interested in learning how to teach these skills to your children, check out Social Thinking and be on the lookout for our future social learning groups.
*Social thinking training and speakers collaborative. (2014). Retrieved July 7, 2014, from https://www.socialthinking.com/conferences/social-thinking-training-a-speakers-collaborative/speaker-bios/510-michelle-garcia-winner-ma-ccc-slp