What does it mean to be social
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What does it mean to be social?. About me…. Alison Schroeder Speech & Language Therapist & Primary School Teacher. www.sociallyspeaking.co.nz. Social Thinking Michelle Garcia Winner www.socialthinking.com.

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What does it mean to be social?

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What does it mean to be social?

About me…..

Alison Schroeder

Speech & Language Therapist & Primary School Teacher


Social Thinking

Michelle Garcia Winner


TheJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorderspublished a report on methodologies specifically addressing deficits in the social thinking process, finding that they are successful at teaching the ability to interact socially in people with social limitations who have near-normal to way above-normal intelligence.

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Social Understanding

Cannot be assumed that a student understands how their behaviour affects the perspective of others

Difficulty seeing the “gestalt”

Cannot be assumed that a student understands how their behaviour is linked to the consequences

The sum of the parts = the whole

To be ‘social’ we need to consider and respond to the perceived thoughts and emotions of others.



Social thinking happens....

when you are with other people



when you are alone

when you are being quiet in a group of people

when you are reading a book or watching t.v.

Writing an email

at the gym

In the supermarket



Face book

Standing still

“Might not like people”



“Talking about something that they are not interested in”



“Don’t know what to say”

“Don’t understand”








Help a person to learn to be seen in a positive light by others.

People have ‘normal’ thoughts about you



Hanging out

Expected Behaviours

Constantly change according to age, culture, situation and familiarity

Toilet humour






People can have uncomfortable or unusual thoughts about person


Wedding dress

Mini Golf




No one wants really wants to judge but we all do it

without thinking – e.g. appearance, things people say and how they act

Teach the social brain to figure out other’s points of view

Better problem solving how to react and respond

Big jigsaw puzzle that never ends

2003 Research Frostig Center of California

“Friendship is unnecessary like philosophy, like art. It has no survival value; rather, it is one of those things that give value to survival


C S Lewis


Developing Friendships and Relationships

  • Friendship even for the most capable of us, requires hard work

  • Depends on a foundation of many skills built upon previously acquired skills

  • Learner needs to understand the function of that skill on a personal level and how it applies to their life

People who make us feel good about ourselves

  • We want to share space/time with

  • Consider as friendly and over time think of as friends

  • Close friends do this over and over over periods of time

  • Close friends share common interests, trust each other and enjoy being with that person


  • A friend is someone you feel pretty good about being around

  • Real friends make you feel like you have something to offer them

  • Feeling good with another person is difficult to define

  • Not simple – have to show interest in them and them in you

Social Memory

We don’t remember exactly what people say or do to us but we do remember how they make us feel

Professor Haslam, University of Exeter

Five year study of 650 stroke patients (Professor Haslam, University of Exeter)

  • Those part of close-knit social group were significantly less likely to suffer a second life-threatening problem over a given period of time

  • Social isolation doubled the risk of a secondary, life-threatening event e.g. heart attack

I like to be alone...

  • We are all members of the human

    race and in our society we have to interact with others in order to survive

  • Need to balance time alone/social interaction. We all have different levels

Developing the root system



Play dates



“I would that there were no age between ten and twenty three.. For there is nothing in between but getting wenches with child, wronging the ancientry,

stealing, fighting…”

Shakespeare (The Winter’s Tale; Act III)

Social thinking

  • Think about people near us

  • Try to remember what we know about them

  • What do they feel about what you’re saying?

  • What are you doing to show you are interested?

Emotions/Emotional Regulation

(Mehrabrian, reported in Nowicki & Duke 1992)

Emotional meaning is expressed:

55% facial, postural, and gestural

38% tone of voice

Think with your eyes

  • Lets others know you are paying attention

  • Have to watch to figure out what they are saying/meaning

    e.g. Look at clock – thinking about time

    Guy looking at girl – thinking she’s cute


  • Constant eye contact = creepy

  • Generally look for a second or two then look away. Keep looking back to capture more information


  • Helps explain our point of view, share feelings, opinions and won thoughts on the world.

  • People only want to consider what we have to say about things if we don’t offend people who are listening

  • Avoid download


  • Make mistakes – we all do

  • All misjudge social situations or motives from time to time

  • Learn to laugh at oneself

  • Even those good at social skills mess it up from time to time


  • Dinner

  • Organisation – emailing/texting

  • Quiz night

  • Games evenings

  • Specific social skills

  • Joke telling

What does it mean to be social?

To be ‘social’ we need to consider and respond to the perceived thoughts and emotions of others.

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