Guest Author: Marisa Bierenfeld, M.S. CF-SLP
Key Words: Social Thinking, social skills, AAC
“Social Thinking,” founded by speech pathologist, Michelle Garcia Winner utilizes various social thinking concepts that can benefit children of all ages both academically and behaviorally in their daily lives. These Social Thinking concepts benefit the development of self-awareness, perspective thinking, executive functioning, and reading, writing and more. This framework is defined as, “the ability to consider your own and others thoughts, emotions, beliefs, intentions, knowledge, etc. to help interpret and respond to the information in your mind and possibly through your social behavioral interactions” (Tarshis and Meringolo, 2014). Students learn to think about thinking. These social skills help individuals communicate effectively and develop relationships.
The I LAUGH Model
This model involves the main fundamentals of the Social Thinking. “I” represents “initiating” which involves starting conversations, asking questions and making comments. “L” represents “listening with eyes and brain.” Students are expected to look at their environment and people around them to be able to use those clues to what they should be doing, what the people are doing/ what their next move is. For example, if a student enters the classroom and sees everyone sitting on the carpet, the student should realize that they should go sit on the carpet. “A” stands for “abstracting and inferencing.” This is a higher-functioning skill in which students interpret figurative language during conversation/ reading. They also make guesses and are able to be flexible (if they are right or wrong), and being able to read facial expressions, body language, and tone/ inflection. “U” represents “understanding perspective,” is when students use executive functioning to consider their own and their communication partners’ thoughts/ emotions, intentions, and prior knowledge. This involves using the social-rules that are expected during conversation. “G” represents “getting the big picture” in which students need to prioritize what is important what is said/ read. These students have difficulty interpreting contextual cues and focus on the details rather than the big picture. They will carry out instructions, however, will not understand the end result. One way this can be practiced is by using visuals to help them summarizing reading passages. Finally, the “H” stands for “humor and human relationships.” Professionals must learn HOW to teach humor. Students learn when is it appropriate to be funny/ make jokes, and making personal connections.
Above is the tip of the iceberg of the I LAUGH model, a summary of what to expect if professionals choose to utilize the Social Thinking concept in therapy. In the following blog article, how to apply the I LAUGH model to AAC users will be discussed.
Tarshis, N., & Meringolo, D. (2014). Social Thinking Across the Home and School Day: The I LAUGH Model of Social Thinking. Lecture presented in Kean University, Union.