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What is Social Thinking®, Who Can Benefit, and Why is it Important?

Per the words of Michelle Garcia Winner, “People with sophisticated social skills do not simply memorize and apply social skills across all situations. Social skills are produced based on our awareness of the situation and presence (or absence) of people in it, and our related social thinking skills.”

What is Social Thinking®?

Social Thinking is a treatment framework developed by Michelle Garcia Winner that teaches the “why” behind our social behavior. Winner created the Social Thinking Vocabulary and concepts as a way to break down, explain, and put abstract concepts into concrete terms that make up our social world.
The aim of Social Thinking is to help verbal learners develop the skills they need to be flexible social thinkers and social problem solvers. Through the experiences of books, lessons and music, children will learn about the social mind and social expectations. They will also learn about their own thinking (and that of others) to help them make better decisions when in the midst of social play and interaction.

Who Can Benefit?

Children with high language and learning skills, but weak social learning skills will benefit the most from Social Thinking; however all people benefit from exploring our own and other’s social expectations. Remember our social abilities develop and evolve over time. The social skills we learn as a child lay the foundation for us as teenagers and adults.

Why is it Important?

Social Thinking is important for SO many reasons! Here are a few of the top reasons:
1. Using appropriate social skills tend to make people feel comfortable around us which helps us better co-exist and interact with those we share space with.
2. Most of us want to make connections and make friends with our family, peers, teachers, or class mates.
3. The core concepts of Social Thinking help us develop insights and socially based critical thinking in school. For example anytime a student is asked to:
a. work in a group
b. interpret a story
c. solve a problem
d. write an email
e. express their ideas
f. answer questions
g. take the perspective of a character
h. understand a video clip
i. critically think about a story they are using their social thinking mind!

To learn more about Social Thinking, please visit

-Molly Rhoads, MA CCC-SLP