Social Thinking

Social Thinking
What is Social Thinking?
Social thinking is an intuitive process that allows
us to consider points of view, emotions, and
intentions or others.
In neurotypical people, social thinking is hardwired neurologically at birth and learned
intuitively from infancy.
For those with ASD and related social learning
challenges, we have to cognitively teach them
how to think socially.
Simply Put….
Social thinking is what we do when we
interact with people: we think about them.
And how we think about people affects how
we behave, which in turn affects how others
respond to us, which in turn affects our own
What does it mean to have good
social skills?
The Big 3 Social Skills
• Having good social skills
means adapting our
behaviors to do what is
socially expected based on
the situation.
• Good social skills are not
dependent on being
involved in a social
interaction. It simply means
you behave in a way that is
expected for the situation
you are in.
Michelle Garcia Winner developed
the ILAUGH framework of social cognition to
explain the multiple skills needed in order to
succeed at social interaction and personal
problem solving.
ILAUGH Framework
I = Initiation of Communication
L = Listening with Eyes and Brain
A = Abstract and Inferential
U = Understanding Perspective
G = Gestalt Processing/ Getting the Big Picture
H = Humor and Human Relatedness
Initiation of Communication
• Ability to use one’s language skills
to establish social relations and seek
assistance and information from others
Encouraging Students to Ask for
• Asking for help is the
first step in learning to
advocate for oneself.
• It can also help build
working relationships
and meaningful
relationships with
• Thoughts on
Encouraging Asking for
Knowing If I
Need Help
You don’t need help when:
You don’t have a problem
You know the solution, can
solve it yourself, you tried
it and it worked
You do need help when:
You have a problem but
don’t know the solution
You know the solution but
can’t solve it yourself
You know the solution and
tried it, but it didn’t work
Being Able to Get
You can get help
You know who can
help, and are able to
get their help
You need to find your
back-up person when:
You don’t know who
can help and/or you’re
not able to get their
Listening with Eyes and Brain
• Whole Body Listening
• Requires mastery of joint attention
• Requires full attention to verbal and nonverbal
Keeping Your Brain in the Group
What does Whole
Body Listening Look
•Listening with the eyes (Look at
the speaker)
•Listening with the mouth (Closed
and quiet)
•Listening with the body (Facing
the Speaker)
•Listening with the hands (quietly
at the side of the body or in the
•Listening with the feet (standing
still or quietly on the floor)
•Listening with the brain (thinking
about what the speaker is saying)
•Listening with the heart (caring
about what the speaker is saying)
By Kristen Wilson and Elizabeth Sautter
Abstract and Inferential
Requires recognition that two codes of language
exist: literal and figurative
Understanding Perspective
The Four Steps
Ability to consider your
own and others:
• Thoughts
• Emotions
• Physically coded
• Language based
• Prior knowledge
• Belief systems
• Personality
Facilitating Friendships
• Begin with explicit instruction
• Use social scripts, cue cards, and video models
• Set up contrived practice with another
student (preferably a typical peer)
• Encourage play in unstructured times
• Structured recess
• Reward students for attempts
Building Relationships
Gestalt Processing
Information is conveyed through
concepts, not just facts
Ways to help when your student is
• “Sticky” thinking – this is when your student
with autism gets stuck on a topic, a question,
an activity
• Pause card
• Schedules and visual structures
• Do not engage in power struggles or argue
with them
Humor and Human Relatedness
• Most individuals with ASD have
good senses of humor, but have anxiety about
missing subtle cues.
• Students need to be taught how to relate and
respond to other people’s emotions as well as
their own.
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