Social thinking is what we do when we interact with other people: we’re thinking about them, and we take in their thoughts, emotions and intentions, and react appropriately within the relationship. It’s a circle of communication – how we think about people affects how we behave, which in turn affects how others respond to us, which in turn affects our emotions.
Social Thinking Challenges Can Affect Any Child
Learning social skills and being a competent social thinker does not always happen intuitively. While most people acquire social thinking as a natural part of development, children with a diagnosis of underlying speech and language processing or learning challenges such as sensory integration dysfunction, ADD or autism, can be at risk for social challenges.
It is important to note, however, that some children experiencing social learning difficulties often receive no actual diagnosis of a learning challenge. In fact, a child may score high on IQ and standardized tests, but do not intuitively learn the nuances of social communication and interaction.
Red Flags That Your Child Might be Struggling to Build Friendships and Develop Social Skills
- Prefers to play alone and does not play interactively with other children
- Difficulty understanding how to gain attention appropriately and/or attending to others
- Difficulty initiating interactions
- Difficulty staying on topic during conversations
- Difficulty making relevant comments during conversations.
- Difficulty following game rules
Laying the Foundation for Social Learning
Social thinking relies heavily on foundations in development that have been put in place to regulate how the brain perceives and processes incoming sensory information, and how it then organizes and delivers an output that is expected and connected, resulting in a positive social outcome. Finding a team of professionals, (Occupational Therapist, Speech Therapist, child psychologist) who can identify why your child is struggling, is the first step to creating a treatment program that will help your child build this foundation of social development.
What Types of Therapy Help a Child Develop Social Learning and Self-Regulation?
At Child Success Center, an in-depth intake call by a licensed professional is the first step in assessing if there are underlying processing challenges in areas such as speech and language, sensory motor processing, attention and memory, and emotional regulation. Once an assessment has determined the root of a child’s social struggles, and depending on the child’s age, a recommendation is made for the “right fit” treatment plan that best fits the needs of the individual child and the family.
These programs are designed to provide the child with the opportunities to experience interactions with others that result in positive and negative outcomes in a fun, play-based, supportive and compassionate environment. These opportunities help bridge the gap for the child and help him build the foundation needed to move to higher learning. Our team of professionals uses the Social Thinking™ treatment framework and curriculum to develop social learning and self-regulation while teaching a child:
- how their own social mind works
- why they and others react or respond the way they do
- how their behavior affects the way others perceive them
- how the perception or response of others affects their own emotions and responses
- social problem solving
- how to effectively and appropriately self-advocate
- to monitor body language, theirs and others
- to deal with uncomfortable or unfamiliar situations and regulate big emotions
Therapeutic Social Learning Options
Individual Occupational and/or Speech Therapy:
One child working with one therapist as part of OT session or collaborative session with ST, with opportunity for peer to peer play experiences in our sensory motor gym to help build foundational social skills.
Small Group – Paired Peer Speech and Language Sessions:
At Child Success Center we use Paired Peer Sessions, or peer to peer play, to focus on improving a child’s underlying language skills – skills necessary to foster relationships and to develop appropriate social skills.
Two children who have been matched for optimal outcome success, will work with a speech/language pathologist specialized in treating children with pragmatic language and social skills difficulties. These specialists understand the importance of adapting instruction to meet the needs of each child.
Children are paired based on their interests, language abilities and current therapeutic speech and language goals. Each session is driven by a lesson plan consisting of motivating activities designed to improve social communication skills while engaging in relationship building.
3-month sessions will include work on:
- Using “whole body” listening to improve attention and listening
- Initiating and maintaining conversations
- Nonverbal communication during conversation
- Perspective taking
- Improving self-confidence
- Understanding and expressing feelings
- Social flexibility
Small group of 4-6 children matched for group skill building needs utilizing Social Thinking curriculum and supporting inside out social emotional development. This engaging group consists of 6 sessions led by child psychologist.
Click to learn more about Friendship Club and session dates.
Next Steps to Your Child’s Social Thinking Success
A child that is comfortable with his peers will be a happy child with a desire to go to school, learn and participate in the social groups and team play, so critical to early childhood learning and development.
To determine your child’s needs and which social thinking learning opportunities he would benefit most from, please call Child Success Center to set up an assessment with one of our therapists.
Call 310.899.9597 today to set up appointment.