Social Thinking Training & Speakers' Collaborative


Our Speakers

The Social Thinking Training & Speakers' Collaborative (STTSC) consists of thought-leading social-cognitive therapists who work with individuals with social learning challenges and their families, and provide trainings at schools, universities, businesses, and other organizations around the world in the Social Thinking Methodology. It is a priority that all our speakers maintain an active caseload so they may continue to share the most practical and meaningful treatment information. Note: members of the STTSC are the only people licensed to train in the Social Thinking Methodology.

Your Training Options

There are many ways to train yourself, your team, and your entire organization in the Social Thinking Methodology:

Attend a conference: Explore our upcoming conferences to see if we’re coming to your area. Our conferences get rave reviews and can sell out in advance, so don’t wait to reserve your seat. Continuing education credit is available.

Watch eLearning modules: Learn from anywhere! Our 20+ self-paced online courses offer expert teachings on a wide variety of topics, plus—enjoy 50% off your first module. Continuing education credit is available.

Invite us to train your organization: Invite our speakers to come to you! You decide the content of your training; choose from our many full-day courses, specially request a training on how to implement the Social Thinking Methodology in your school or district, or have us design a custom training to address the unique needs of your organization.

Attend our Clinical Training Program: Get an inside look at how our clinicians teach at Social Thinking clinics by attending our three-day intensive Clinical Training Program. Designed for professionals with experience using the Social Thinking Methodology. Continuing education credit is available.

Michelle Garcia Winner

Founder & CEO Social Thinking • M.A., CCC-SLP

  • Michelle Garcia Winner
  • Michelle Garcia Winner, MA, CCC-SLP specializes in the treatment of individuals with social learning challenges and is the founder and CEO of Social Thinking®, a company dedicated to helping individuals from four through adulthood develop their social competencies to meet their personal social goals. Michelle coined the term “Social Thinking” in the mid-1990s and since that time has created numerous unique treatment frameworks and curricula that help educators, clinicians, professionals of all types, and parents/family members appreciate that social capabilities are integral to a person’s success in life, socially, academically, and professionally.

    Michelle maintains a private practice, The Center for Social Thinking, in Santa Clara, California, where she works with clients who continue to teach and inspire her. She travels globally presenting courses on the Social Thinking Methodology, an evidence-based approach she created that she continues to evolve and expand on. Michelle helps to develop educational programs, consults with and trains families and schools, and is a guiding presence with a wide range of professionals, politicians, and businesses on the topic of social emotional competencies. She is a prolific writer and has written and/or co-authored more than 40 books and over 100 articles about the Social Thinking Methodology.

    Michelle receives accolades for her energetic and educational conference presentations, as well as her down-to-earth approach to teaching social competencies. The strength of Michelle's work is her ability to break down abstract social concepts and teach them in practical, concrete ways to help people improve their social problem solving abilities and social responses.

    Career Summary

    Michelle’s interest in autism while attending the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1979 became the catalyst for becoming a speech language pathologist (SLP). Her first two mentors in the field were the late Dr. Carol Prutting (an early pioneer in the study of social pragmatics) and Dr. Robert Koegel (founder of Pivotal Response Therapy, aligned with ABA). While attending graduate school at Indiana University, Bloomington she became involved in the Indiana Resource Center for Autism (IRCA) under the leadership of Nancy Dalrymple, who became another strong mentor for Michelle. At IRCA in the 1980s, Michelle worked extensively with teens and young adults who would by today’s standard be referred to as “classically autistic.” Her students experienced significant intellectual learning challenges, weak speech/language development, and very limited social learning abilities. Michelle excelled at combining her knowledge of communication with behaviorism to help her more cognitively challenged students develop basic functional communication and social skills through behavioral teachings.


    After returning home to California in the late 1980s, Michelle transitioned to working in hospitals and post-acute hospital rehabilitation centers with neurotypical learners who suffered from head injuries or strokes. There she learned about higher-level brain functioning and cognitive rehabilitation. In 1995, her career transitioned once more when she became the SLP for a public high school district. Her caseload was comprised of many older students who had relatively strong intelligence and language, but who lacked more refined social communication skills. The Social Thinking Methodology was born out of necessity as a way to reach those “bright but socially clueless students” who needed more information about how to navigate the social world than just memorizing dialogue to use in conversation. They needed to know why they should bother to converse at all, or even interact with others in their environment. The Social Thinking Methodology was born!


    Michelle opened her private practice, the Center for Social Thinking, in 1998 and was met with high demand that continues to rise to this day. Trained professionals work with individuals ages 4 through adulthood in individual and group settings. Michelle continues to carry an active caseload of clients, in addition to consulting with families and schools on the Social Thinking Methodology and designing programs tailored to the individual’s needs. Michelle also started the company now called Social Thinking Publishing, Inc. to handle the growing public speaking demand from the national and international stage, as well as to publish her and others’ books on the Social Thinking Methodology. Michelle has written and/or co-authored more than 20 books on Social Thinking and her work is being applied not only to persons with higher-functioning autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, ADD/ADHD, and related disabilities, but also more broadly to students in mainstream classrooms and to adults in vocational and professional settings in the U.S. and abroad.



    In 2016, her approach led, a leading national nonprofit organization, to call Michelle, "...the leading expert in the field of social skills."


    In 2008, Michelle was honored with a Congressional Special Recognition Award for her groundbreaking work in the field of social learning.


    " of my favorite authors in the field of teaching emotional intelligence. Michelle Garcia Winner has pioneered some very helpful ways of conceptualizing and helping educators understand the social challenges that students on the autism spectrum face." - Stephan Borgman, 2010, Psychology Today, "Spectrum Solutions"



    To check out the Social Thinking Research homepage, click here.


    Research published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders supports using Social Thinking Vocabulary with individuals with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. Learn more here.



    Michelle lives in San Jose, CA with her partner and has two daughters, Heidi and Robyn.


    Financial Disclosure

    Financial: Michelle Garcia Winner is employed by Think Social Publishing, Inc. as an author/speaker and receives compensation for her presentations as well as the sale of her books and by the Social Thinking Center as a clinician. Michelle owns the companies Think Social Publishing, Inc as well as The Social Thinking Center, Inc. and their related intellectual property.   


    Non-financial: No relevant non-financial relationship exists.



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Pamela Crooke

PhD, CCC-SLP • Chief Strategy Officer

  • Pamela Crooke
  • Pamela J. Crooke is the Chief Strategy Officer and Director of Research, Content, Clinical Services, and the Social Thinking Training & Speakers Collaborative.

    Dr. Crooke has co-authored, with Michelle Garcia Winner, five award-winning books related to Social Thinking: Socially Curious and Curiously Social, You Are a Social Detective, Social Fortune or Social Fate, Social Town, and their book geared to adults, Good Intentions Are Not Good Enough. She and Winner collaborate on writing articles and blogs that appear on the Social Thinking website and in a wide array of publications.

    Prior to joining the Social Thinking team, she coordinated the Autism interdisciplinary clinical services at the Tucson Alliance for Autism, served as a clinical and academic faculty member of three universities, and worked in the Arizona public schools for 15 years. Pam is a prolific speaker both in North America and abroad, giving workshops, presentations, and training staff on Social Thinking methodology. She has co-authored books for young children and teens including the Autism Society of America Literary Book of the Year in 2012. She is on the board and/or is a member of a wide range of organizations related to autism and speech/language and has been the recipient of several foundation and community grants. In 2011, she received the Outstanding Achievement Award with Co-recipient Michelle Garcia Winner from the California Speech, Language and Hearing Association (CSHA).

    Her most recent publications focus on using Practice-based research to examine how educators, mental health specialists, and parents utilize strategies within the Social Thinking methodology. Pam maintains an active clinical practice of both adolescents and adults.

    Click here to download Pam's CV

    Financial Disclosure

    Financial: Pamela Crooke is employed by Think Social Publishing, Inc., as an author/speaker. She receives a salary, but does not receive additional compensation for speaking or royalties for books or products. She is also employed by the Social Thinking Center, as a therapist.
    Non-financial: No relevant non-financial relationship exists.

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Kari Zweber Palmer


  • Kari Zweber Palmer
  • Kari Zweber Palmer is a speech-language pathologist/social-cognitive therapist at her private practice, Changing Perspectives, in Excelsior, MN. She has co-authored, with Michelle Garcia Winner, Ryan Hendrix, and Nancy Tarshis, We Thinkers! Volume 1 Social Explorers and We Thinkers! Volume 2 Social Problem Solvers. Additionally, Kari consults with local school districts on implementing Social Thinking into their programming.

    Kari's interest in communication and related disorders began long before she studied it formally. Her mom, Jane, is a speech-language pathologist and Kari grew up in the field. Kari received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri and Master’s from the University of Kansas. Following her formal training, she started her career as a speech-language pathologist in the public schools in Minnetonka, MN, working predominately in the early childhood and elementary levels.

    Kari's interest in Social Thinking was first ignited in graduate school when she was encouraged to facilitate a "social skills" group for teens. As she attempted to pull together a lesson plan for the group, she quickly realized she had no idea how to truly teach social. Discovering Michelle's work made all the difference, as she found information that concretely explained what to do and more importantly, why. Finding herself increasingly fascinated in Social Thinking, Kari researched and wrote "The Double Interview: Assessing the Social Communication of Adolescents with Asperger Syndrome" for her Master's thesis. Department faculty at the University of Kansas awarded her the Margaret C. Byrne Saricks Graduate Research Award for demonstrating excellence in Master's thesis research.

    Kari worked as a full-time therapist at Michelle Garcia Winner's Center for Social Thinking in San Jose, CA. Her diverse caseload included preschool children to young adults, all with varying levels of social-cognitive challenges. Kari had the good fortune of training directly with Michelle and co-treated a teen group with her each week.

    Kari is an active presenter and likes nothing better than to share the power of Social Thinking with others. Comments from past workshop participants include: "Kari was engaging, enthusiastic and obviously passionate about the topic. She was not only knowledgeable but balanced the information with real-life examples and humor."

    Click here to download Kari's CV


    Kari can usually be found chasing after her kids, thinking about training for another triathlon with her husband, and enjoying the lakes of Minnesota. She loves to travel and considers her experiences with an infant on an airplane the most interesting social experiment.

    Financial Disclosure

    Financial: Author /speaker for Think Social Publishing, Inc., and receives speaking fees and royalty payments.

    Non-­financial: No relevant non-­financial relationships exist.

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Ryan Hendrix


  • Ryan Hendrix
  • Ryan Hendrix is a Social Cognitive Therapist at Social Thinking Stevens Creek in San Jose and a private therapist in San Francisco. She trained and works directly with Michelle Garcia Winner and Dr. Pamela Crooke. Her diverse caseload experience includes preschool-age children through young adults with varying levels of social cognitive learning challenges.

    In addition to running groups, she actively collaborates with families and related professionals (teachers, resource specialists, psychologists, etc.) on ways to promote carryover and generalization of learning outside of the clinic setting. Ryan also helps supervise and train graduate students and clinicians in their clinical fellowship year and does ongoing mentorships within the Social Thinking Stevens Creek clinic.

    Ryan received her Bachelor's Degree in Psychology with a minor in Art Therapy and her Master's Degree in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Arizona. While at the U of A, Ryan met Dr. Crooke, who introduced her to the unpredictable, quirky world of Social Thinking. Having grown up with a close family friend with Asperger's syndrome, the concepts and lessons resonated strongly with her. Throughout graduate school and during her clinical fellowship year as part of the Autism Clinic Extension, Ryan conducted evaluations, designed and implemented treatment programs, and developed and led individual and group-based programs for children and adolescents ages 4-15 on the autism spectrum. Together with Dr. Crooke, she put together a research project to examine the efficacy of Social Thinking therapy. They later authored a published journal article discussing the results of the pilot study and presented the preliminary results in a technical session at ASHA in 2007.

    Following graduation, Ryan continued implementing Social Thinking principles as a speech-language pathologist at the Tucson Medical Center. There she worked with children ages 1-12 with a variety of cognitive and communication impairments. She also collaborated and co-treated with occupational and physical therapists. When opportunity knocked in late 2007, she followed Dr. Crooke west to the Center for Social Thinking.

    Ryan's artistic and creative talents allow her to present lessons in a visual, fun, and engaging manner. Working with a variety of ages and levels allows Ryan to sit on the floor, fly around in a cape, and create Superflex tools then turn around and explore the concept of a clique, the social fates and fortunes of working as a group, and break down the hidden rules of hanging out at a coffee shop. She is passionate about Social Thinking and the students and families she works with and enjoys collaborating with them and with their teams to take Social Thinking beyond the clinic walls.

    Ryan, along with co-authors Kari Zweber Palmer, Nancy Tarshis, and Michelle Garcia Winner, created We Thinkers! Volume 1 Social Explorers and We Thinkers! Volume 2 Social Problem Solvers, curricula for preschool and early elementary years published by Social Thinking. She has thoroughly enjoyed creating a product that melds what we know about social development with the powerful concepts of Social Thinking and making it accessible to this group of learners and their teams and families.

    Ryan truly enjoys sharing this information with families and professionals in both small settings and conferences and brings the concepts and strategies to life through stories and humor.

    Other Experience
    • Group Facilitator, Asperger Syndrome/High Functioning Autism Social Groups in the Tucson community.
    • Developed, organized, and led in-home social play groups for children with social cognitive deficits from 6 to 15 years of age
    • Instructor and volunteer, Art*Works Art Therapy Center
    • Created and implemented literacy-based programming for adults with developmental disabilities
    • Programmed and supervised art and collaborative cooking studios
    • Designed and taught activities for daily living and life skills

    Professional Affiliations

    • American Speech Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) member
    • California Speech Language and Hearing Association (CSHA) member

    Click here to download Ryan's CV


    Ryan lives with her husband, young daughter, and two dogs in San Francisco. The sights and sounds of a busy city are a big departure from the desert southwest where she grew up, but she loves to get out and explore the area and all of the wonderful things it has to offer, especially the food!

    Financial Disclosure

    Financial: Author/speaker for Thinks Social Publishing, Inc. and receives speaking fees and royalty payments. She is also employed by the Social Thinking clinic as a therapist.

    Non-­financial: No relevant non-­financial relationships exist.

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Nancy Clements


  • Nancy Clements
  • Nancy Clements is a speech language pathologist and Executive Director of Social Thinking Boston®, the East Coast sister clinic to Social Thinking Stevens Creek and Social Thinking Santa Clara. She brings her highly creative approach to her clinical practice, where she maintains a very active and varied caseload ranging from early social learners through adults. She is especially interested in bringing Social Thinking concepts to all learners and continuing to analyze the impact of social thinking methodologies across all tiers using a Response to Intervention (RTI) model. Nancy enjoys formulating programs from the ground up through creative strategies, systems of implementation, and models of efficacy that are data driven. Having been raised by parents who were both educators, she brings an empathic and collaborative approach to coaching teachers, administrators and specialists.

    Before founding and opening Social Thinking Boston in 2012, Nancy was the Program Manager for Communication Services at the Stern Center for Language and Learning. She developed an in-depth Social Thinking program, including developmentally based groups, off-site coaching and consultations, and a three-credit graduate course in partnership with Saint Michaels College. In 2011 she mentored within the Colchester School District to analyze the impact of social thinking methodologies across all tiers using a Response to Intervention (RTI) model. Similar models have been duplicated in the Winooksi and Swanton Vermont school districts.

    Throughout her 30+ year career she has served as a direct service provider, consultant, and has presented extensively across New England, Nationally and in Canada. Her strong ties to the Vermont educational community have reemerged in the greater Boston area, where her early professional experiences included clinically based interventions through the New England Rehab Hospital and the University Hospital in Boston. These experiences provided the opportunity to work within interdisciplinary teams both in the assessment process and development of programs, including the use of technology. She began incorporating her knowledge of assistive/adaptive technology (AAC) into her work and introduced this concept to the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center while continuing to extensively explore and build her skills with folks requiring assistive technology for communication. This expertise led her to the University of Vermont's Department of Communication and Disorders Program to implement an extensive three year national grant designed to teach graduate students about this technology while developing models of assistive/adaptive technology implementation in rural communities. Following her passion, she became a consultant for the Prentke-Romich company, traveling and providing extensive training about AAC. She became a leader in this field throughout Vermont and New England, often consulting to teams building blended programs, pulling together models from social communication, sensory integration, and technology.

    Other Experience
    Nancy has developed and presented workshops on a variety of topics in addition to the Social Thinking workshops she has been trained to give:

    • Workshop on Floortime and blended approaches to programming for students on the Spectrum (full day)
    • Workshop on RDI model of intervention- specific focus on modified and extension activities of this model (full day- week long training models)
    • Workshop on Executive Functioning –theory, research and strategies for elementary, middle and high school students (full day)
    • Sensory Integration meets Communication-theory, evaluation and strategies for joining methodologies (full day)

    Speaking Experience

    • 1991: North Dakota- week long presentation on AAC with low functioning adults
    • 1993-1997: Extensive Presentations on AAC in Vermont, Mass, NH, NY and Ohio
    • 1997-2004: Extensive presentations throughout Vermont and New Hampshire on programming for students on the Autism spectrum using a blended approach to attending skills, functional skill building, social communication and self-regulation
    • 2004-2011: Presentations on Floortime, RDI model, Developing and Running Social Groups, Building Blocks for Early Literacy, Executive Functioning, and Picture Exchange Communication throughout Vermont and New Hampshire.
    • 2008-Present: Frequent Presenter at the Social Thinking Providers Conference, San Jose CA. Presentations Include: Summer Camp Curriculum
    • Broad Overview of development of the clinical Social Thinking Programs
    • School Based Social Thinking Implementation Across all Educational Tiers
    • Social Thinking Meets Design Thinking (co-presented with classroom teacher)
    • 2009: Poster Session at ASHA National Conference

    Click here to download Nancy's CV

    In her spare time, Nancy enjoys cooking, traveling, reading, and taking long walks. She is also an avid sports fan. Having been happily married for 25 years, she also enjoys spending time with her husband, two grown children, her parents, and friends.

    Financial Disclosure

    Financial: Speaker for Think Social Publishing, Inc., and Executive Director of Social Thinking Boston. Receives speaking fees from Social Thinking for her presentations.
    Non-­financial: No relevant non-­financial relationships exist. 

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Nancy Tarshis


  • Nancy Tarshis
  • Nancy Tarshis, a speech-language pathologist and special educator with extensive experience working with children and their parents, is the Director of Early Childhood Programming at The Quad Preparatory School, which is dedicated to twice exceptional children, Grades K-12. For 27 years, she was a member of the professional team at the Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center (CERC) at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, serving as Supervisor of Speech and Language Services for 21 of them. In that capacity, she trained more than 400 SLPs currently practicing throughout the nation. As Emeritus at CERC, she participates in ongoing research and lectures to pediatric fellows, medical residents, and psychology interns. In addition, she serves as adjunct clinical instructor at New York University, Teachers College - Columbia University, and Hunter and Lehman Colleges of City University of New York, and consults on social emotional learning to a variety of public and private schools. Nancy is deeply experienced in a wide variety of treatment methodologies, including Social Thinking. She speaks frequently across the United States and internationally on its concepts and strategies, and is the co-author of We Thinkers! Volume 1 Social Explorers and We Thinkers! Volume 2 Social Problem Solvers.

    Nancy’s private clinical work includes Altogether Social, a social cognitive practice she co-founded with Debbie Meringolo, that serves clients age 14 months through 22 years. Altogether Social provides individual and group sessions, trainings for parents and professionals, and school consultations.

    Nancy is a member of the professional advisory boards of New York Zero to Three and Apraxia Kids (formerly the Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America).

    Speaking Experience

    • Narrative Development and Intervention
    • Early Identification of Autism Spectrum Disorders
    • Introduction to the ADOS
    • Pervasive Developmental Disorders
    • Childhood Apraxia of Speech
    • Play and Language: Development, Assessment, and Intervention for the Preschool Child Resilience
    • Parent-Child Dyadic Intervention for Infants
    • Handling, Positioning and Oromotor Control
    • Language Development and Language Disorders: Birth to Five
    • Play as a Context for Enhancing Developmental and Academic Skills
    • Early Intervention and Assessment of Autistic Infants and Toddlers
    • Speech and Language Assessment: Birth to Five Years
    • Interview Techniques and Hiring Practices: A Conversation with Professionals in the Field
    • Speech Therapy Post Cochlear Implant

    Click here to download Nancy's CV


    Nancy is intensely proud of her son, a cheese monger, currently slinging cider; daughter-in-law, a Professor of Geology; daughter, a pediatric Nurse Practitioner; and son-in-law, a consultant. She and her husband of over 35 years live in Manhattan.

    Financial Disclosure
    Financial: Author/speaker for Think Social Publishing, Inc., and receives speaking fees and royalty payments.
    Non-­financial: No relevant non-­financial relationships exist.

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Renee Attaway


  • Renee Attaway
  • Renee Attaway is the founder and director of Social Thinking® at Parish, a program at The Parish School that offers social cognitive services in the Houston, Texas. For over 5 years, her program provides group and individual therapeutic services for children from preschool to high school, an overnight social learning summer camp called Camp Social Superheroes, and a parent group.

    As a Speech Language Pathologist, Renee has offered Social Thinking® groups since discovering Michelle's work in 2003. She has completed both the mentor training and internship at the Social Thinking clinics in San Jose, CA.


    Renee's career has included working in private schools, the university setting, and private practice. She has focused on the school setting for over 14 years through work with the public schools as a supervisor, consulting with private schools and her position at The Parish school, a private school for children with language and learning differences. Renee's passion for language and cognition came from her many roles there, including working as a lead preschool teacher, pull-out therapist, and administrator for Speech Pathology services. Program development is another of Renee's strengths and she has been instrumental in creating or supporting language programs and summer camps at The University of Houston, The Parish School, and founded Camp Social Superheroes. She also served as a program chair the Texas Speech and Hearing Association.

    Renee is an enthusiastic speaker who enjoys sharing her own clinical experiences with audiences across North America. She has traveled as a speaker all over North America and has over 10 years of speaking experiences in her community and to many different kinds of professionals. In addition, Renee speaks about social cognitive development, preschool play skills, group language therapy, and creating effective social groups.


    Other Experience

    At the University of Houston, Renee worked as a Clinical Supervisor and supervised graduate students in speech pathology.  She created and directed Cougar Communication Groups, which offered a summer group therapy experience for graduate students and included articulation, language, reading, and social groups.


    For two-and-a-half years, Renee served on the Programming Committee for TSHA, which is responsible for planning and hosting the annual convention for the state.  Renee served as committee co-chair and helped coordinate the convention hosting site, sessions offered, and convention activities.


    Speaking Experience

    Renee has presented on the following topics in addition to the core Social Thinking workshops mentioned above:

    • Social Thinking® for Elementary Students
    • Language Development in Young Children
    • Preschool Social Development and Play Skills
    • Social Groups 101:  How to run an effective social group
    • Pragmatic Language Skills
    • Behavior vs. Social:  Understanding Social Difficulties in a Classroom
    • Language Therapy in a Group Setting
    • Social Skills in the Preschool Classroom
    • Social Skills in Neurotypical Children

    Click here to download Renee's CV


    Renee is the mother of two young children and spends most of her free time playing, creating art projects, and chasing preschoolers. She is an avid reader and loves traveling, painting and crafts, restaurants, and Pilates.


    Financial Disclosure

    Financial: Speaker for Think Social Publishing, Inc. and receives speaking fees. 

    Non-­financial: No relevant non-­financial relationships exist. 


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Debbie Meringolo

MA, MS, Educator

  • Debbie Meringolo
  • Debbie Meringolo, a special educator, clinician and developmental specialist, is the Director of Early Childhood Programming at Quad Preparatory School, a school for twice exceptional children, Grades K-12. She assumed this role in July 2018, after a 27-year history as the Associate Director of the Infant/Toddler Team and RELATE program at the Rose F. Kennedy Center Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center of Montefiore. Prior to her current role at Quad Prep, Debbie served as a consultant, bringing Social Thinking methodology to the school, developing the social emotional learning program and training staff members. Debbie has a long history working in schools as a reading specialist, supervisor and program developer in the New York City Department of Education for many years.

    In addition to her current position, she runs a part time private practice along with Nancy Tarshis, for children ages 14 months through adulthood. They provide individual and group sessions, consult to public and private schools and provide training for parents and professionals.

    Debbie is an enthusiastic speaker who enjoys sharing her own clinical experiences with audiences across the country. She has been speaking about social cognitive development, preschool play skill development, assessment and intervention, and developing social groups across the age range.

    Speaking Experience
    Debbie has presented on the following topics in addition to the core Social Thinking workshops listed above:

    • Social Thinking® for students in grades K-12
    • Preschool Social Emotional Development and Play Skills
    • Connecting Social Thinking® to Challenges in Reading and Writing
    • Supporting Siblings and Families
    • Play and Language: Assessment and Intervention for the Preschool Child
    • Play and Language: Development, Assessment and Intervention
    • Identifying Autism Spectrum Disorders in Young Children
    • Using the Autism Diagnostic and Observation Schedule
    • Educating Children with Autism

    Click here to download Debbie's CV

    Debbie and her husband live in White Plains, NY. She enjoys time with her children and family, her son, an attorney, daughter-in-law, a media specialist, daughter, a clinical social worker, and soon to be son-in-law, a financial specialist.

    Financial Disclosure

    Financial: Speaker for Think Social Publishing, Inc. and receives speaking fees. 
    Non-­financial: No relevant non-­financial relationships exist. 

    Note: Nancy Tarshis and Debbie Meringolo are available to co-present and bring a unique perspective to the Collaborative. As clinicians and administrators at a university-affiliated developmental disabilities clinic, they provide evaluation and treatment to individuals from birth to 21. In their joint private practice, they offer a variety of supports that include school consultations, staff training, parent education, and weekly treatment groups. They are uniquely qualified to offer professional training to teachers, therapists, administrators, and parents on the Social Thinking framework.

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Beckham Linton


  • Beckham Linton
  • Beckham earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Therapeutic Recreation and a Master of Arts degree in Speech Language Pathology at Oklahoma State University. She has worked in a variety of settings since 1990 and developed an early interest in social communication while working in acute care and rehabilitation settings in the Midwest. Beckham and her family moved to Ft. Collins, Colorado in 1996 where she served as staff therapist and director of the Speech-Language Pathology and Cognitive Rehabilitation departments at The Brain Injury Recovery Program. Her responsibilities included evaluation and treatment planning for adults and children, cognitiverehabilitation program development, in-service training, client care coordination and public education. Beckham also served as staff therapist at The Speech-Language Stimulation Center in Ft. Collins working with clients from birth to 3 years as well as adults with voice disorders.

    In 2009, Beckham began working in the public school system as a staff speech language pathologist in both elementary and middle schools and spent time supervising interns, developing in-service training programs and consulting with IEP teams. She noticed a rapid rise in students with autism on her caseload whose strong verbal language skills combined with relatively weak social and emotional regulation skills interfered greatly with their ability to function academically and socially across settings. Her immediate search for more effective teaching strategies lead her directly to Social Thinking® and she has never turned back.

    Beckham completed the Social Thinking Clinical Training Level 1 in 2008 and the Clinical Training Level 2 in 2009, and has been a member of the Social Thinking® Speaker’s Collaborative ever since. She stays current in the latest trends and teaching methods by regularly attending annual Social Thinking and related conferences around the country. Currently, Beckham runs her own private practice called Heartland Social Learning Center LLC and has dedicated her career to supporting students, parents and teachers in the process of becoming more effective communicators and personal problem solvers.

    Other Experience:

    • Speaks nationally for the Social Thinking® Speakers Collaborative
    • Developed a ‘Social Think Tank’ for sharing of intervention ideas among school district staff
    • Presenter: Closing the Gap Conference: Social Thinking and Story Grammar Marker applications
    • Developed and implemented summer social therapy programs for kids ages 3-13
    • Provided multiple district wide teacher/parent education talks on Social Language challenges
    • Contributor: Facilitating Relationships! Six Second Stories and Other Social Communication Strategies. Maryellen Rooney Moreau, M.Ed., CCC-SLP and Gwynne McElhinney, M.S., CCC-SLP
    • Received the ASHA Award for Continuing Education (ACE)
    • Developed Metacognitive awareness training presentation for neuro-rehabilitation professionals
    • Organized and lead social support group for adults with TBI

    Click here to download Beckham's CV

    Financial Disclosure
    Financial: Speaker for Think Social Publishing, Inc. and receives speaking fees.
    Non-financial: No relevant non-financial relationships exist.

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Nancy Cotton

PhD, Clinical Psychologist

  • Nancy Cotton
  • Dr. Cotton is a Clinical Developmental Psychologist who received her Doctoral degree from Tufts University and completed Harvard Medical School internships and Post-doctoral fellowships in adult and child psychology.  She was a principal teacher and supervisor at Harvard Medical School from 1977 until she moved to Vermont in 1995.

    Dr. Cotton has a longstanding interest in the comprehensive treatment of children and adolescents with difficulties stemming from biological, psychological, social, communication, and learning vulnerabilities.  She works closely with parents to develop their parenting skills and to understand their children’s individual styles.  She was the Director of a Harvard teaching hospital Inpatient Child Psychiatry Unit for ten years and worked as a principal consultant to the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health in program development and clinical treatment planning for children and adolescents in need of complex, intense, and comprehensive services. 

    Dr. Cotton has a private practice in Burlington, Vermont where she treats adults, children, and families.  She is a licensed psychologist in Massachusetts and Vermont.

    She consults throughout these states to school-based and mental health teams coordinating complex educational and mental health programming for children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Psychiatric Disorders and behavioral and emotional problems.

    Dr. Cotton is the Mental Health Specialist on Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking Training Collaborative and a Consulting Psychologist for Social Thinking Boston, Sudbury, Massachusetts.

    Dr. Cotton’s approach to working with kids and their families emphasizes honoring, nurturing and treating the whole child and family. Her treatment is strength-based while problem-solving with good evaluations, empathetic formulations, and system-wide interventions to address difficulties stemming from biological, psychological, social, communication, and learning vulnerabilities.

    Click here to download Nancy's CV

    Financial Disclosure

    Financial: Speaker for Think Social Publishing, Inc. and receives speaking fees. 

    Non-­financial: No relevant non-­financial relationships exist. 

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Chithra Kathiresan

B. App. Sc., SLP

  • Chithra Kathiresan
  • Chithra Kathiresan is a speech-language therapist who has lived and worked in Singapore for 25 years. She trains professionals, parents and teachers extensively in Singapore and the region. She is a passionate speaker and leads highly engaging sessions, that are tailored to spark curiosity, inspire and move people to action. She is the co-founder and clinical director of Connect and Communicate in Singapore, a private practice dedicated to social communication and supporting relating and thinking across the lifespan. Social Thinking®, DIR® Floortime™ and Hanen® are cornerstones of this multi-disciplinary practice, that sees children as young as 1 year of age, all the way to adults in their late 20s.

    After graduating from Flinders University of South Australia, Chithra began her career in Singapore, working with adults with social cognitive deficits following stroke or traumatic brain injury. At the Tan Tock Seng Hospital Neuroscience Institute, she worked first in acute care, followed by leading speech therapy services at their then newly founded rehabilitation center. She was responsible for the development of speech, social, cognitive and feeding rehabilitation programs for adult and geriatric patients.

    She missed working with children and moved to the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Singapore. Here she gained comprehensive experience working with infants and children, from birth to early adolescence, with a wide variety of communication, cognition, play, social interaction, oral-motor and feeding difficulties. Her broad experience includes evaluating and providing therapy for children with autism, cerebral palsy, cleft lip and/or palate, genetic abnormalities, speech or language delay, global developmental delay, premature infants, literacy and learning difficulties. Chithra headed speech therapy at the Women's and Children's hospital and was responsible for the planning and development of services in the hospital, and follow-up care within the community. Chithra is certified in pediatric dysphagia and worked and taught extensively in feeding and swallowing dysfunction, while working in the hospitals. She conducted numerous talks, seminars and workshops for nurses, doctors, caregivers and other professionals. She was actively involved in raising public awareness and educating professionals through forums and scientific meetings. This love for learning and sharing her experience, has not ceased and continues to grow.

    After her second child, Chithra left the hospital and started consulting at a large multi-disciplinary private practice in Singapore. She was extremely influenced by the OTs in the practice. She eagerly sought further training, including in Sensory Integration and M.O.R.E. Engaging parents as active partners in the therapeutic process is her forte. She is Hanen™ certified in It Takes Two to Talk™ (1997, Singapore), More Than Words™ (2003, Australia) and Talkability™ (2010, Australia) programs. She conducted the inaugural More Than Words™ program in Singapore in 2004, and continued to conduct 2-3 Hanen® parent training programs every year until she founded her practice, Connect and Communicate, in 2013. Chithra recognizes the pivotal role that parents play in the healthy social-emotional development of their child. She is highly versatile and proficient in coaching parents, both 1:1 and through tailored parent group sessions.

    In 2003, Chithra was introduced to DIR® Floortime™ and has pursued it since. She sought intensive mentoring in the model, from senior DIR faculty. She presented to faculty at DIR Summer Institutes in the US, as part of her certification process. In 2012, she was certified as a DIR Floortime Expert by ICDL, a US-based DIR certification body. In 2014, she embarked on a year-long DIR trainer certification with Profectum, in their first program led by Dr. Serena Weider, co-founder of DIR® Floortime™. Chithra is a DIR Trainer with Profectum and teaches in the Profectum Academy online training programs. Chithra tutors professionals undergoing certification, has co-presented a DIR workshop in Australia with senior DIR Faculty, and presents several workshops in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

    Her quest for supporting school going kids with effective tools and strategies that could be easily incorporated into the classroom, led her to Social Thinking®. She loves this model, that seeks to understand minds from the inside out and explain social intuition in a most simplistic and accessible manner. Chithra was introduced to Social Thinking® in 2005 and was completely sold! She attended mentorship and training with the founder Michelle Garcia Winner in 2006, and further clinical training at her Centre in San Jose in 2008, as well as the inaugural Social Thinking Providers conference. She regularly attends the Social Thinking Providers Conference in San Francisco and the trainers meet, to ensure she is abreast with latest developments in Social Thinking. Up keeping fidelity to the model is a priority. Chithra was invited to be a member of the Social Thinking® Training and Speakers Collaborative (STTSC) in 2012. She is the approved and qualified trainer for Social Thinking in Asia. Her company Connect and Communicate, are the regional distributors for social thinking books and materials and operate the website Chithra has trained on Social Thinking in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia. She has presented at SENIA meets (Special Education Network in Asia) and the Social Thinking Providers Conference in San Francisco. She holds an active clinical caseload, with many school-going kids, all the way to tertiary institutions. Chithra conducts social thinking evaluations, provides individual therapy as well as run many social thinking group programs. In addition to conducting workshops, she tirelessly talks to schools and support teams.

    Her wealth and breadth of experience across the life span, has shaped and defines her clinical practice and teaching. Chithra is dedicated to understanding individuals from within, and educating and empowering systems to facilitate change in the individual. She grows and continues to learn with her students and families. She has the unique privilege of watching development unfold, as many of her clients continue to periodically invite her into their lives. She believes all learning and teaching, begins with respect and relationship.

    Other Experience
    Chithra is guest lecturer and clinical educator for the NUS MSc. Speech Language Pathology program. She supervises interns from the NUS MSc program over the last 10 years. She also mentors selected teams and individuals from other organizations, locally and abroad.

    Chithra founded and leads the Social Communication Special Interest Group of Speech and Language Therapy Singapore (SALTS), the local professional body. Her energy and enthusiasm are infectious and she aspires to shape the landscape of speech therapy in Singapore.

    Her organization, Connect and Communicate hosts training and brings great minds and prolific speakers to Singapore, including Michelle Garcia Winner.

    Speaking Experience
    In addition to Social Thinking workshops, Chithra has presented many Hanen and DIR Floortime trainings as well as numerous parent and teacher talks.

    Chithra is happily married for 25 years. She loves trying new foods, meeting people new and old, jazz and classical music, great plays, dance concerts, philosophy, art and crafts, listening to inspirational stories, swimming, travelling, exploring breath-taking views and quiet walks. She is immensely proud of her fine 20-year-old son and beautiful 18-year-old daughter. These two capable young people, have taught her first hand about the intricacies of social relationships and parenting.

    Financial Disclosure
    Financial: Speaker for Think Social Publishing, Inc. and receives speaking fees.
    Non-­financial: No relevant non-­financial relationships exist.

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Ariela Jokel


  • Ariela Jokel
  • Ariela Jokel, P.h.D, CCC-SLP is the head Speech Language Pathologist at the Weinberg Child Development Center at Safra Children's Hospital, Tel Hashomer Sheba Medical Center in Israel. She completed her undergrad degree at York University in Toronto, Canada in psychology with a minor in Spanish and her Masters and Doctoral degrees at The Callier Center, UTD in Dallas, Texas in communication disorders. She is currently a lecturer at the Department of Communication Disorders, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, at Tel Aviv University and has a private practice in Kochav Yair, Israel where she consults and works with individuals their families from birth to adulthood. Ariela’s clinical work includes the development and supervision of the ‘Social net group’, a Social Thinking group for school aged children at Sheba’s child development center. Ariela conducts research on language and autism, has published a number of papers and provides various clinical talks and workshops in the field. She has been a board committee member of the Israeli Speech Hearing and Language Association (ISHLA) since 2012.


    Personal: Ariela and her husband of 28 years, Ronen, live in Kochav Yair, Israel, with their sons Nitzan (an IDF soldier) and Alon. Her daughter, Ophir, is an undergrad psychology student in Toronto. In 2007, Ariela moved back from the US to Israel, with her family and since then has been implementing and promoting Social Thinking in the country. Her aim is to train parents and professionals, making Social Thinking therapy available to clients of all ages throughout Israel. Ariela is fluent in Hebrew, English and Spanish.


    Speaking experience:

    • Early identification and assessment of Autism and Developmental Disorders
    • Early Childhood Development
    • Child Language Development- Creating a Language Rich Environment
    • The Development of Play in Early Childhood
    • Intervention Strategies for Communication, Language and Play.
    • Autism- Theories and Characteristics
    • Autism and Play- from Assessment to Therapy
    • Living with Autism in Daily Life
    • Eating Therapy for Individuals with Autism
    • Parent Training- Working with Families as a Team
    • Using I-pads in Communication, Speech and Language Therapy

    Financial Disclosure
    Financial: Speaker for Think Social Publishing, Inc. and receives speaking fees.
    Non-­financial: No relevant non-­financial relationships exist.

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