Social Communication Skills
Pragmatic language describes the use of language in social situations; however, social communication is a complex process and many crucial social cues are non-verbal. We approach these problems from a broader social thinking perspective, emphasizing why social thinking and the related social skills and behaviors we are teaching are important.
Social Thinking *
A key component of the social thinking process is sometimes called “interactive perspective taking” or “theory of mind”. This is the ability to observe others, paying attention to their body language as well as their words, and infer, or “make smart guesses” about what they are thinking, feeling, and what their plans or intentions might be. The reverse is also true. We need to pay attention to the messages we are sending others with our own body language and words.
There are many individuals, however, who, for various reasons, fail to develop these skills. Individuals with social thinking difficulties often develop inappropriate behaviors, which may make them prime targets for bullies and increase their social isolation. Yet, they truly do not understand how their behaviors contribute to their problems. This vicious cycle can lead to additional social or psychological problems, including anxiety, loneliness and depression.
Marcil has completed advanced clinical training for Social Thinking.
New clients participate in an informal pragmatic language and social communication assessment, prior to beginning any treatment program. Since standardized tests can’t fully measure these problems, parent input is particularly important.
Social Communication Groups
Groups consist of three to five children or adolescents who are at a similar stage in their social thinking and skill development. Age and gender, as well as language and cognitive ability, are also factors in group placement. Groups meet weekly for one hour sessions throughout the year. The length of time a student remains in the program ranges from a few months to several years, but a ten week minimum commitment is expected.
*Social Thinking (R) is a registered trademark of Think Social Publishing (TSP) and Michelle Garcia Winner. All CTA clinicians have attended Michelle’s workshops. Abby has also completed a mentor training program at TSP. We use many of the concepts and materials that they have developed. To learn more about Michelle’s social thinking treatment approach and materials, visit