My wife, Dennise, and I have become huge fans of the work that is taking place at Social Thinking. Our first introduction to their work was last year when Dennise saw Pamela Crooke speak at a conference. She came home excited about what she had heard and right away wanted to learn more. About a month after that conference we attended my son’s annual IEP and the first thing we talked about coincidently was Social Thinking’s, “You are a Social Detective”. So when I had a chance to see the creator of Social Thinking, Michelle Garcia Winner, speak last weekend at an Autism Conference I jumped at the chance.
If you ever have the opportunity to see Michelle speak I highly recommend it. Her speaking technique is very engaging: I’d call it a mix of knowledge, experience, humor, storytelling and most of all frank and honest statements. Two of my favorite statements from her presentation were:
“The fastest way to friendship is to bitch together” & “Having Social Skills problems means you are offending people on a regular basis”.
These are not your normal statements heard from speakers at an Autism conference but sometimes the way to get people’s attention is to point out the “White Elephant in the room”.
The first half of her presentation explained that therapists should use a combination of different therapies in unison to achieve the best results. Those methods could include Social Thinking, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Floortime or Social Stories to name a few. I found this fascinating but it was the second part of her presentation that blew my mind.
The second part of her presentation was entitled, “Choosing treatments: Rocket science or witchcraft? Using the Social Thinking – Social Communication Profile to make decisions”
The Social Thinking – Social Communication Profile was published on the Social Thinking website in January and was written by Michelle Garcia Winner, Pamela Crooke and Stephanie Madrigal. It is a 36 page report that categorizes social functioning so that a proper treatment method can be found and utilized. As a parent of a child with social functioning issues and a Special Education advocate this was revolutionary to me. The categories of social functioning in their report are:
- Severely Challenged Social Communicator (SCSC)
- Challenged Social Communicator (CSC)
- Emerging Social Communicator (ESC)
- Nuance Challenged Social Communicator (NCSC)
- Weak Interactive Social Communicator (WISC)
- Socially Anxious Social Communicator (SASC)
- Neurotypical Social Communicator (NSC)
- Resistant Social Communicator (RSC): described as an alternative category in lieu of ESC or SDSC
I am not going to try and synthesis their report in this blog because as Michelle stated in her presentation, “there was no way to make the report less than 36 pages”. For this reason, I suggest everyone take the time to read the entire report, but what I will do is explain why I found this so exciting.
As an advocate I am very aware that the key to a good Individualized Education Program (IEP) starts with an accurate Present Levels of Performance (PLOP), but yet this is one of the hardest sections for educators to write. Please read Stonewalling the IEP for more information on this. It becomes even more difficult when we are trying to create the PLOP for the child’s social functioning. What I see in this report is a way to revolutionize the way social functioning is described and treated in an IEP. As I mentioned above, the Social Thinking philosophy is already being utilized in some schools, such as with my son’s IEP. So, I predict, this newly created Social Communication Profile will, in time, become the next evolution in how we write and treat social functioning in an IEP. Do you agree with me? I want to hear your opinion, please provide your comments below.