Our goal in developing the Social Thinking-Social Learning Tree, as well as the myriad Social Thinking materials, worksheets, books, and presentations is to demystify the process of social engagement and social interpretation. By doing so, we help adult educators, caregivers, and policy makers better understand how we can get to the root of the social learning challenges our students and clients face, and teach more efficiently and effectively from there.
quinta-feira, 4 de julho de 2013
The Social Learning
By Michelle Garcia Winner, CCC-SLP
Initiation of language is the ability to use one’s language skills to seek assistance or information. A student’s ability to talk about his own topics of interest can be in sharp contrast to how that student communicates when he needs help. Students with social cognitive deficits often have difficulty asking for help, seeking clarification, and initiating appropriate social entrance and exit with other people.
Most persons with social cognitive deficits have difficulty with auditory comprehension. Listening, however, requires more than just taking in auditory information. It also requires individuals to integrate information they see and hear around them, such as the context of the situation and nonverbal cues from others, to fully interpret the spoken or unspoken message. Teachers depend heavily on the notion that all students are able to attend nonverbally to the expectations in the classroom. Being a “good listener” includes not just paying attention to what is being said, but more importantly, attending to the verbal and nonverbal cues that surround the words.
Communicative comprehension requires both literal and figurative interpretations. To be successful in interpreting abstract communication, an individual needs to pay attention to four aspects of communication:
1. what the listener knows about the speaker and his/her motive for communicating
2. in what context the message is being shared
3. the literal words used
4. the nonverbal ways the message is coded along with related physical gestures
Abstract and inferential meaning is often conveyed subtly, through verbal and nonverbal communication coupled with social knowledge of the people and situation. This skill begins to develop in the preschool years and continues across our school years as the messages we are to interpret, both socially and academically, become more abstract. Interpretation depends in part on one’s ability to “make a smart guess.” It also depends on one’s ability to take the perspective of another. Abstract and inferential language interpretation is heavily woven into our language arts, social studies, and science curriculums. It is also a skill set heavily applied in play and conversation.
. This is the ability to understand the emotions, thoughts, beliefs, experiences, motives, intentions, and personality of yourself as well as others. Students intuitively begin to acquire this skill in early childhood development. Neurotypical students acquire a solid foundation of perspective taking between the ages of four to six as they discover how to manipulate and understand other people’s minds. Children continue to refine their knowledge of others’ minds across their lives. The ability to take perspective is key to being part of any type of group (social or academic). It is integral to academic subjects that require understanding other people’s minds, such as reading comprehension, history, social studies, etc. It is also key for formulating clear written expression. Weakness in perspective taking is a significant part of the diagnosis of social cognitive deficits.
Information is conveyed through concepts and not just facts. Being able to relate the little bits of information to a whole is gestalt processing in a nutshell. When individuals participate in a conversation they intuitively understand the underlying concept being discussed. This knowledge helps them stay on track, make relevant comments, know when they’re veering off topic. When reading, one has to follow the overall meaning (concept) rather than just collect a series of facts. Like the other elements mentioned above, conceptual processing is another key component to understanding social and academic information. Furthermore, conceptual processing and organizational strategies (as well as other executive function tasks) go hand in hand. Weakness in one area is usually accompanied by weakness in the other. Children who struggle to relate parts of a project to each other, or manage their time to get assignments done by the deadline are typically weak in gestalt processing. Challenges in this skill can greatly impact one’s ability to formulate written expression, summarize reading passages, and manage one’s homework load.
Most of our clients have a very good sense of humor, but they feel anxious since they miss many of the subtle cues that help them understand how to participate successfully with others. It is important for educators and parents to work compassionately and with humor to help minimize the anxiety these children are experiencing. At the same time, many of our clients use humor inappropriately; direct lessons about this topic are often required.
Human relatedness is at the heart of social interaction. While virtually all of our clients desire some form of social interaction, they have difficulty relating to others’ minds, emotions and needs. Establishing the concept of human relatedness and what it means to be part of the flowing give and take of human relationships is essential before trying to make headway in any of the above lessons. First we must establish a connection of our own with our students.
Find additional articles and information at our Social Thinking website: www.socialthinking.com.