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Social Thinking Workshop Comes to M’KIS
By Anita Brady 12-Jan-17
Mont’Kiara International School (M’KIS) proudly played host on Friday, 2 September and Saturday, 3 September to Michelle Garcia Winner, the founder of Social Thinking®. Over 150 people attended the workshop on Friday and Saturday. Attendees from Kuala Lumpur, Melaka, Sarawak, as well as Thailand, Indonesia, and Hong Kong included educators, parents, as well as additional support providers such as speech pathologists, behavior therapists, doctors, and psychologists. Nineteen members of the M’KIS faculty were also in attendance. Social Thinking® draws on various fields including psychology, linguistics, and communication. It is defined as “The ability to consider your own thoughts, emotions, beliefs, intentions, knowledge, etc., to help interpret and respond to the information in your mind and possibly through your social behavioral interactions.” The workshop, entitled Thinking About YOU Thinking About ME, reiterated Social Thinking® as a framework and stressed the importance of being able to adapt behavior effectively. For neurotypical individuals much of this is learned innately. However, for some individuals with social challenges, these skills need to be taught explicitly through tools such as Social Behavior Mapping (with a focus on context and the associated “expected behaviors” and “unexpected behaviors”) or The Four Steps of Communication to help individuals become aware of societal norms. Social Thinking® is at the heart of activities such as reading comprehension, written expression, and group work. Quotes from attendees: “I’ve come away with some wonderful knowledge, but more importantly some powerful tools that will allow me to help support students who are struggling with social cognition.” “Never take for granted the fact that you can read body language and understand how to initiate and take part in a conversation. The Social Thinking workshop by Michelle Garcia Winner was such an excellent introduction into the world of people with communication difficulties. Garcia Winner is a knowledgeable professional who was eager to share her wealth of experiences as a speech language pathologist. This background, combined with a keen interest in autism, has shaped her ongoing research directed at helping to improve communication for people with social cognitive difficulties. Garcia Winner gave many examples of the challenges faced by this group of people, demonstrating how debilitating the inability to communicate with others can be. We can all think of people we know or have known who have some of the same struggles that were detailed in this workshop. I am happy to think that ongoing research, by people like Garcia Winner, is helping to provide a teaching model that will improve the lives of many by allowing them to make sense of how to communicate and interact with the world around them.” More information about Social Thinking® is available at http://www.socialthinking.com. Anita Brady is the Student Support Services Coordinator at Mont’Kiara International School.
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