Topics in Language Disorders

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Thinking Socially: Teaching Social Knowledge to Foster Social Behavioral Change

Pamela Crooke, Michelle Garcia Winner, and Lesley Olswang
July/September 2016

Published in Topics in Language Disorders: July/September 2016 - Volume 36

This article discusses the Social Emotional Chain Reaction (as taught in Social Behavior Mapping) – the idea that how we act affects how others feel, how we make others feel affects how they treat us, how we are treated affects how we feel about others and ultimately how we feel about ourselves. The Social Emotional Chain Reaction is at the foundation of social interaction and is at the heart of what we teach through the Social Thinking Methodology.

Abstract: 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.


Editor Forward for the issue: A Developmental Framework for Evidence-Based Practices for the Autism Spectrum. It explains, “In planning this issue of Topics in Language Disorders, our goal was to inform and empower providers and consumers of evidence-based practices in the area of autism regarding the key factors of (1) stakeholder selected outcomes, (2) ecological validity, and (3) use of a developmental framework to identify key outcomes.”

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