Published Social Thinking Research


Thinking Socially: Teaching Social Knowledge to Foster Social Behavioral Change

This article addresses the complexity of what it means to “be social” from the perspective of social thinking. This perspective recognizes social cognitive processing abilities as the foundation for social knowledge and, in turn, social behaviors. The article further describes variables that influence how one understands how to do what is expected in different social situations and how development, stakeholders, and context influence that process. Challenges in “being social” for individuals with autism spectrum disorders are discussed, as well as differences between behavior-based and cognitive-based therapies. Finally, an example of one Social Thinking strategy-based treatment framework, Social Behavior Mapping, is used to illustrate the essential elements of cognitive behavioral therapy.

Practice-based Research: Another Pathway for Closing the Research-Practice Gap

This article examines the prevailing wisdom of moving evidence into practice as defined by the traditional research pipeline that has been viewed as the gold standard in health care. In comparison, evidence that comes from practice will be explored as an alternative research-based paradigm that complements the traditional approach. Research originating within the research and practice setting will be explored as a way to more effectively close the research-practice gap. Practice-Based Research (PBR) will be defined, including principles and methodological guidelines. To illustrate PBR, retrospective data from an existing, highly utilized methodology (Social Thinking) for teaching social knowledge and behaviors to individuals diagnosed with social learning challenges, including autism spectrum disorders (ASD), will be presented.

Executive functioning and social pragmatic communication skills: Exploring the threads in our social fabric

The development of treatment plans and related strategies to help our students with social pragmatic challenges improve upon their social communicative competencies requires us to explore how Theory of Mind (ToM), Central Coherence (CC), and Executive Functioning (EF) are interwoven. In this article, we deconstruct elements of social learning to explore how EFs play a critical role in face-to-face communication and how this information is not captured on any current standardized assessment currently available in our field.

The outcome of a social cognitive training for mainstream adolescents with social communication deficits in a Chinese community

[Study conducted in Hong Kong] The use of cognitive-based strategies for improving social communication behaviors for individuals who have solid language and cognition is an important question. This study investigated the outcome of teaching Social Thinking®, a framework based in social-cognition, to Chinese adolescents with social communication deficits. A framework based in social cognitive strategies, with appropriate linguistic and cultural adaptations, appears to be a promising tool for Chinese adolescents with social learning issues. Social behaviors improved across school and home settings as noted by groups of raters familiar with the students.

Practice parameter for the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder

Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 53 (2). Written in conjunction with the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) Committee on Quality Issues (CQI). This article mentions Social Thinking under methods available for the delivery of social reciprocity/pragmatic language-oriented interventions.
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Social Thinking: A training paradigm for professionals and treatment approach for individuals with social learning/social pragmatic challenges

Teaching students with social learning/pragmatic challenges what neurotypical children learn intuitively is an act that blends art and science. This article will describe the development of social learning and social communication and the relationship to social skills. A training and treatment framework referred to as Social Thinking will be introduced. The training aspect of Social Thinking is referred to as the ILAUGH Model, an acronym representing how different aspects of the school and home day relate require our core social knowledge and then how we use this knowledge to produce our social skills as well as participate successfully in specific academic tasks.

Assessing the Social Mind in Action: The Importance of Informal Dynamic Assessments

While most of us engage in social interaction/ regulation intuitively, many students with social learning challenges who have good to excellent language and cognition (e.g., High Functioning Autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified, Asperger Syndrome and/or Attention Deficit Disorder) are weak in their ability to think about how we think socially.

Brief Report: Measuring the effectiveness of teaching social thinking to children with asperger syndrome (AS) and high functioning autism (HFA)

This is the first report from a larger multiple baseline single-subject design study of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). This brief report examines effectiveness of teaching a social cognitive (Social Thinking) approach to six males with Asperger syndrome (AS) or High Functioning Autism (HFA). Data included are restricted to pre- post-treatment comparisons of verbal and non-verbal social behaviors. Structured treatment and semi-structured generalization sessions occurred over eight weeks. Results indicated significant changes from pre- to post- measures on both verbal/nonverbal "expected" and "unexpected" behaviors, significant increases in the subcategories of "expected verbal", "listening/thinking with eyes", and "initiations", and robust decreases in the subcategories of "unexpected-verbal" and "unexpected-nonverbal". Importance of social cognitive approaches for children AS and HFA is discussed.

Efficacy of cognitive behavior therapy-based social skills intervention for school-aged boys with autism spectrum disorders

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), which focuses on changing how a person thinks about social situations as well as how he behaves, is a promising approach. This study evaluated the efficacy of a 15 week CBT-based social skills intervention for boys aged 10–12 years diagnosed with an ASD. Comparison of the outcomes using repeated measures analyses indicated that boys receiving the intervention scored significantly better on measures of social perception, peer interaction, and social knowledge than boys who had not received intervention. There were no differences on general measures of socialization. The manualized intervention used in this study shows promise but replication with larger samples is needed.

Assessment of social skills for students with asperger syndrome and high-functioning autism

Students with high-functioning autism and Asperger Syndrome exhibit deficits in their ability to utilize appropriate social skills across a variety of contexts; however, standardized tests are typically not sensitive to the significance of these deficits. Social skills are a behavioral manifestation of social cognition. A framework will be introduced to summarize areas of social cognition that are generally weak and impacts students' ability to relate to others.


Evaluating the effectiveness of the social thinking intervention to increase social responsiveness of adolescents and young adults with asperger syndrome: a mixed-methods approach

Dissertation Taylor Hawaii

Examining the effectiveness of a social learning curriculum for improving social skills and self-regulation behaviors in middle school boys with autism spectrum disorder or social skill deficits

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Effects of the Superflex™ Curriculum on the social cognition of primary students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism spectrum disorders

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The experience of using Social Thinking® in parenting children with autism spectrum disorders: A case study

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Using a social communication intervention to improve the social interactions and employment experiences of adolescents with High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders

Social Cognition with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Peer Relationships

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A promising approach to treating social communication and social cognition difficulties in children and adolescents with autism

Paper: Montana State University, Billings Montana

The Double Interview Task: Assessing the Social Communication of Children with Asperger's Syndrome

The Double Interview Task: Assessing the social communication of children with asperger's syndrome


Social Learning and Social Functioning: Social Thinking's Cascade of Social Functioning

Attention Magazine

Social Communication Strategies for Adolescents With Autism

The ASHA Leader, MD.

Thinking about Thinking: Social Communication for adolescents with Autism

The ASHA Leader, MD.

It's a Girl Thing or Is it?: Social Thinking and Social Skills in Girls, Teens, and Women with Social Learning Issues

Autism Asperger Digest.

Learners on the Autism Spectrum (pp. 209-231).

Social Thinking: Cognition to Enhance Communication and Learning. In K. D. Buron, & P. Wolfburg (Eds.). Shawnee Mission, Kansas: Autism Asperger Publishing Co.

A case series on the social thinking training of mainstreamed secondary school students with high-functioning autism