Ryan Hendrix


Ryan Hendrix is a senior 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 social cognitive learning differences.

In addition to fostering social competencies in individual and group contexts, she actively collaborates with families and related professionals (teachers, resource specialists, psychologists, etc.) on ways to support their social learners beyond the clinic setting in their classrooms, communities, and homes. She meets with professionals from all over the world to talk about Social Thinking for Early Learners as part of the Social Thinking Clinical Training Program and is part of the Social Thinking Stevens Creek clinic’s ongoing Caregiver Education Series. As part of the Social Thinking Training and Speakers’ Collaborative, Ryan collaborates with and supports school teams to implement Social Thinking concepts across grades levels and across their school day.

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 social learning differences, 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 effectiveness of using the Social Thinking Vocabulary. 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 explore abstract ideas in a visual, fun, and engaging manner. Working with a variety of ages and in a variety of contexts 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 students, caregivers, and their teams to help social learners meet their own goals.

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 materials that meld 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 caregivers and professionals in both small settings and conferences and brings the concepts and strategies to life through stories and humor.

Other Experience
  • Group Facilitator, social groups for students with social learning differences in the Tucson community
  • Developed, organized, and led in-home social play groups for children with social cognitive differences 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-Hearing Association (ASHA) member
  • California Speech Language Hearing Association (CSHA) member

Click here to download Ryan's CV


Ryan lives with her husband and daughter 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.

Recent Articles

The 3 Parts of Play: Teaching Planning and Executive Functions

Author(s): Ryan Hendrix, MS, CCC-SLP, Michelle Garcia Winner, MA, CCC-SLP, Pamela Crooke, PhD, CCC-SLP, & Kari Zweber Palmer, MA, CCC-SLP

The 3 Parts of Play/Activity is a visual framework designed to teach social learners about planning, choice making, and time management—all executive functions. It also helps individuals learn that any activity involves a process, and there are steps we take from start to finish while keeping time limitations in mind. This builds essential and foundational executive functions. The nice part about this framework is that we can explain that any activity, whether individual or group based, has at least three parts, and all parts involve time prediction.

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Empowering Student Voices: The Transformative Impact of Student-Led Social Learning & Advocacy

Author(s): Kari Zweber Palmer, MA, CCC-SLP, Ryan Hendrix, MS, CCC-SLP, Michelle Garcia Winner, MA, CCC-SLP, Pamela Crooke, PhD, CCC-SLP

Listening to our students and trusting them as experts on their own experiences can transform the educational landscape through student-led approaches to social, emotional, and academic learning (SEAL). Conversations with approximately 500 4th and 5th graders based on the simple prompt, Someday in school, I would like to_____., empowered these kids to give voice to their aspirations and perspectives on making school a more inclusive and fulfilling environment. The powerful themes of choices and relationships that emerged from this activity highlight the essential elements needed for every student to feel a sense of belonging. Truly heeding their voice serves as an important reminder of where to invest our time and energy—especially as we head back to school.

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How to Foster Students’ Flexible Thinking & Advocacy Skills Using Future Thinking: The Somedays Activity

Author(s): Kari Zweber Palmer, MA, CCC-SLP, Ryan Hendrix, MS, CCC-SLP, Michelle Garcia Winner, MA, CCC-SLP, Pamela Crooke, PhD, CCC-SLP

Engage your students in a low-effort, high-impact group activity that cultivates future thinking, reasoning, and flexible thinking to develop advocacy skills. When encouraging students to imagine their ideal school experience by completing the sentence, Someday in school, I would like to ___., educators create opportunities for students to imagine what they can do in the here and now to create a path for themselves that they desire for the future. Explore how this activity fosters students’ goal setting, interactions with others, and the practice of using their voice for advocacy, allowing them to feel empowered, included, heard, and engaged in their educational experience.

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DO ObseRve (DOOR): A Practical Social Observation Strategy for Managing Social Transitions

Author(s): Kari Zweber Palmer, MA, CCC-SLP, Ryan Hendrix, MS, CCC-SLP, Michelle Garcia Winner, MA, CCC-SLP, Pamela Crooke, PhD, CCC-SLP

Explore the teachable role that everyday doors play in developing social observation skills. Doors not only define physical spaces, but they also serve as visual cues for transitioning into new situations. By encouraging our students, children, and clients to use the Do ObseRve strategy before entering a new space, they can first imagine the situation, gather information by thinking with their eyes, ears, and brain as they observe the situation, and then make smart guesses about what to expect to manage the transition and navigate social situations more effectively. Use this simple strategy in school, at home, and in the community.

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The ABCs of Summer Boredom: Awareness, Curiosity, and Action

Author(s): Michelle Garcia Winner, MA, CCC-SLP, Pamela Crooke, PhD, CCC-SLP, Kari Zweber Palmer, MA, CCC-SLP, Ryan Hendrix, MS, CCC-SLP

“I’m bored!” Those familiar (yet dreaded!) words can often punctuate the lazy days of summer we hope to be filled with fun, adventure, and new experiences. But boredom, like any other feeling, holds valuable information. Recognizing and understanding boredom is the first step toward transforming it into something more fulfilling. In this article, we explore the signs of summer boredom, particularly focusing on children and teens, and delve into strategies to combat its restlessness, ignite creativity, and empower guided decision-making.

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Two Simple Executive Function Strategies to Avoid Family Stress & Stay Connected During Summer Break

Author(s): Michelle Garcia Winner, MA, CCC-SLP, Pamela Crooke, PhD, CCC-SLP, Kari Zweber Palmer, MA, CCC-SLP, Ryan Hendrix, MS, CCC-SLP

Summer break can be a great time for kids to relax and have fun, but it can also be a time when change and lack of structure are the norm, which can be stressful for kids and parents alike. In this article, we share two executive function strategies for creating a summer break schedule that’s full of choices and gives kids some responsibility for coming up with healthy ways to entertain themselves while staying connected with the family.

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Brain Wires and Social Smarts: A Student’s Tool to Reflect on Their Growth

Author(s): Kari Zweber Palmer, MA, CCC-SLP, Ryan Hendrix, MS, CCC-SLP, Michelle Garcia Winner, MA, CCC-SLP, and Pamela Crooke, PhD, CCC-SLP

A teacher recently shared her thoughts on the end of the school year, referring to it as the time when teachers and caregivers have everything to do and students have… nothing to do. While this, of course, is an overgeneralization, many of us might be able to relate. So how do we finish up the school year with Social Thinking in an intentional, but also realistic way?

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Talking About Brain Smarts - How My Brain is Wired

Author(s): Ryan Hendrix, MS, CCC-SLP

When we work with students with social learning differences and/or challenges on their social thinking and related social skills, we’re asking them to talk about and work on something their brains don’t make easy for them, which can be difficult and anxiety provoking at times. See how to use the visual ideas of brain smarts, brain wires, and social smarts to make these concepts more concrete and create a more productive conversation.

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Thinking Flexibly About We Thinkers! Volume 1: Overview and Q&A

Author(s): Ryan Hendrix, MS, CCC-SLP, Kari Zweber Palmer, MA, CCC-SLP, Nancy Tarshis, MA, MS, CCC-SLP, and Michelle Garcia Winner, MA, CCC-SLP

Studies continue to demonstrate the benefits of starting education early, and that education is the best way to close the gap for disadvantaged students. It’s also the best way to provide supported collaborative learning and play experiences for children with social cognitive learning differences and/or challenges.

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How the GPS Interactive Play Scale Relates to Classroom Participation

Author(s): Michelle Garcia Winner, MA, CCC-SLP, Nancy Tarshis, MA, MS, CCC-SLP, Kari Zweber Palmer, MA, CCC-SLP, and Ryan Hendrix, MS, CCC-SLP

Kids come to the classroom with differing abilities. Those who are more "me-based" or adult- based players are not as likely to naturally figure out the dynamics of a playground or a classroom, while those with stronger "we-based" play skills tend to be more fluid in their ability to attend and learn in larger groups. Learn about our Interactive Play Scale and how you can use our tools to help the children you work with improve their social understanding through play.

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