When I was at my son’s IEP last week, his Recreational Therapist brought in a book that she uses to help with his socialization skills in school. It’s called “You are a Social Detective” Explaining Social Skills to Kids. The authors of the book are Michelle Garcia Winner and Pamela Crooke. They are specialists for people who have Social Learning Challenges as well as Speech and Language Pathologists; we recently posted an article written by them called Social Thinking and Applied Behavior Analysis. Coincidently, I saw Pamela Crooke speak at the Help Group Summit Conference in Los Angeles a few months ago about this very subject. So, when my son’s Recreational Therapist suggested we buy this book to help him with his socialization skills at home, we ordered it that very day!
The book teaches children about expected and unexpected behavior…more importantly, knowing the difference between the two. In order to do that, you must become a Social Detective. They must learn to use their eyes, ears and what they know in their brain to figure out what is expected or what may happen next. If children learn how to combine the information they have gathered from their eyes, ears and brain they can figure out how to behave in all places. If they use all the information they have collected, they will be able to make a Smart Guess as to the proper behavior to use whether they are in the class, playground or with family. Becoming a Social Detective builds Social Smarts so that they become better Social Thinkers over time.
I highly recommend this book for all parents whose children suffer in this area. It can teach you how to help your child become a Social Detective in your home life, therefore, developing their Social Thinking skills which do not come naturally to them. We’ve only had the book a few days, but it has opened my eyes as to what my son does not know about other people. I just realized my son cannot always recognize expected or unexpected behavior in someone else…basically reading other people by their actions. When that happens, he just sits on the sidelines and does not participate in group activities. Using the Social Detective philosophy, he can figure what people might be feeling, thinking or planning to do next. This is also why we included a social functioning goal in his IEP. The goal says:
During a 20 minute partner or small group cooperative learning or play, he will be able to read another person’s plan by observing their actions and stating at least one realistic result of peers actions, once per day on 5 out of 5 school days per week.
My hope is that by working with him at home and including a social functioning goal in his IEP that some day he will develop his own Social Thinking skills and be able to socialize in all areas of his life.