Social Thinking and Academics

Academic Issues related to persons with weak social cognitive development:

Schools use the early intervention model of specialized education in which educators address the traditional struggles that many young students experience learning core academic skills, such as language, numbers and reading. Schools generally have specialists who work with younger children in these areas.

Students with social thinking challenges, however, often have the reverse problem with learning. They acquire factually based academic skills with relative ease. Their struggles emerge as they progress through elementary school and into middle school, where they are required to use complex critical and social thinking skills to interpret and respond to information presented in the classroom and beyond. During these same years, a more sophisticated set of social skills becomes needed to relate to peers.

The ILAUGH model of social cognition summarizes many ways in which students with social learning challenges also have directly related academic problems. For example, if a student does not understand that other persons have minds that think differently from their own, they will struggle to comprehend literature. When reading a story, the student assumes he or she does not know the character and they read to learn about the character’s thoughts, emotions, motives, etc. Another related academic difficulty is likely to be written expression, as one has to narrate language to help the reader understand the writer’s thoughts.

Given that most educational systems are only beginning to understand, acknowledge and address social learning disabilities, these students are often misunderstood. They are often perceived as having behavior problems or even being emotionally disturbed. Given their personal challenges relating to peers or working in groups, they frequently refuse to productively participate in group assignments related to the core curriculum. For example, some of our students do not know how to enter into a peer based work group and will try to just do the work by themselves. Other’s get frustrated by the fact that some peers good off in groups and then the person with social learning challenges feel these students are not working hard, so they end up feeling they have to do all the work themselves or they don’t do any work at all. Relatively few socially challenged students have an educational plan for helping them learn more abstract yet essential concepts, such as group participation, more sophisticated reading comprehension, written expression of flexible ideas, organizational skills and more.

Michelle's social thinking concepts are considered to be "user-friendly," so much so that mainstream teachers are adopting them for use with all students in their classrooms and some schools have adopted them for use in all classrooms. To read more about social cognitive deficits in the school setting, see all articles posted on our links page.

Products related to this subject:

  1. Inside Out: What Makes a Person with Social Cognitive Deficits Tick?
  2. Think Social! A Social Thinking Curriculum for School-Age Students (2nd Printing)
  3. Sticker Strategies to Encourage Social Thinking and Organization

©2012 Social Thinking Publishing - Michelle Garcia Winner