Social Learning

Social learning takes place with our peers, within our families, and in our communities. We know some individuals struggle with the learning of social cognitive information, i.e., using facial expressions and body language as a way to understand what someone else is feeling or understanding that one’s thoughts, emotions, and reactions differ from other people. Many students, including those with high-functioning autism, ADHD and similar social and communication challenges, have difficulties understanding that other people have perspectives that are different from their own.

This inability to adjust to new social environments affects a child’s behavior and the behavior of others in the social group. A first grader who needs comfort by sitting in his mother’s lap will be ostracized by peers if he tries to sit in the lap of his teacher when he is upset. There is now an abundance of resources that have strategies and techniques for students, parents, and professionals.

Social Skills Resources

Socially Curious and Curiously Social: A Social Thinking Guidebook for Bright Teens and Adults. Michelle Garcia Winner and Pamela Crooke. This anime-illustrated guidebook is written for teens and young adults to learn how the social mind is expected to work in order to effectively relate to others at school, at work, in the community, and even at home.

The Hidden Curriculum: Practical Solutions for Understanding Unstated Rules in Social Situations. Brenda Smith Myles, Melissa Trautman, Ronda Schelvan. This guidebook helps persons with social-cognitive difficulties make sense of unspoken rules and expectations that goven how we interact with others in everyday life.

Thinking about YOU Thinking About Me. Michelle Garcia Winner. This book is an excellent place to start to learn more about social interaction and social awareness. Understanding the perspectives of others is key to all interpersonal relationships. Specific lessons, and how to apply them in different settings, are explored. The Four Steps of Communication creates a framework for understanding the complexities of social thinking and for enhancing perspective-taking in students.

Social Thinking Worksheets for Tweens and Teens: Learning to Read in Between the Social Lines. Michelle Garcia Winner. These worksheets translate “How do I teach someone to think social” into explicit, tangible lessons for use by SLPs, teachers, parents, and other related service providers.

How Rude! The Teenagers’ Guide to Good Manners, Proper Behavior, and Not Grossing People Out. Alex J. Packer, Ph.D. This etiquette book keeps you laughing as you learn the basics of polite behavior in all kinds of situations—at home, at school, in public, with friends etc.

I Get It! Building Social Thinking and Reading Comprehension Through Book Chats. Audra Jensen. The ability to comprehend abstract thinking greatly impacts reading comprehension. This book illuminates the relationship between social thinking and reading comprehension with a positive, practical approach to helping children learn to read for meaning.

Michelle Garcia Winner, creator of Social Thinking, writes a blog, provides resources, and shares upcoming workshops on her website:

The Gray Center, founded by Carol Gray, promotes social learning through social stories:

The Autism Outreach Project of Washington, located in Anacortes, has a website with invaluable resources, which include a lending library with a variety of DVDs and books for children who struggle to learn social cues: