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About Social Thinking Conferences

Social Thinking's inspiring and practical conferences are designed for professionals and parents alike -- for anyone working with students and adults who are experiencing social and communication problems (high-functioning autism, Asperger's, ADHD, nonverbal learning disorders... or no diagnosis).


At Social Thinking, we teach students how to think about the social world in order to communicate more effectively. Our acclaimed teaching methods help students learn to interpret and respond to abstract social information and produce related social skills for use in the classroom, home and community.  We connect social learning to the Common Core Standards and provide strategies for PBIS, RTI and SEL. 


Our conferences are designed to help persons with solid to gifted language and learning skills ages pre-k through young adult, regardless of their diagnostic label. Our strategies help parents and professionals teach social information to students with Asperger's, ASD, Levels 1 & 2, Social Communication Disorder, PDD-NOS-, ADHD, NVLD, Mixed Receptive-Expressive Language Disorder, Twice Exceptional, Social Anxiety and head injury as well as those with no diagnosis at all. Mainstream kids benefit from our strategies too, which is why Social Thinking curricula is popping up in mainstream classrooms around the world.  Choose Your Track below to browse our conferences.

What People are Saying

  • Occupational Therapists

    "Michelle is an amazing speaker. She makes all of these complexities seem so easy to understand and relay to kids with social issues."

    "Chomping at the bit to take it back to the school district"

  • SLP

    "I can take everything I've learned here and put to use in therapy"

  • School Psychologist

    "One word: Awesome: Michelle gets it!"

  • Special Ed Teachers

    "This was such an amazing conference. I can't wait to take this wealth of information to my classroom"

    "Thank you for connecting social learning with scholastic learning"

  • Parents

    "Simply great parenting strategies to use with all kids!

    "The most i n t e l l i g e n t , humane understanding of socially challenged people I've ever had occasion to hear"

Choose Your Track

I am a

Parent, Family Member & Student

Social Thinking has been approved to provide CEUs for SLPs, social workers, psychologists, marriage and family therapists, counselors, nurses, and teachers. CEUs are not available through CES for Social Workers in NJ or to LMFTs in MA.


CEUs are only available via the Professional Track. If you register as a Parent, Family Member or Student you will not receive CEUs.

ST Collaborative Speakers

Michelle Garcia Winner and Dr. Pamela Crooke have hand-picked the speakers for our Social Thinking Training & Speakers' Collaborative (STTSC). Each STTSC member, including Pam and Michelle, continue to work directly with clients and families in addition to providing trainings around the country and world. Our STTSC is dedicated to providing clear information about the social learning process, it’s connection to academic learning, as well as practical strategies for use in the classroom, playground, home and community. We are proudly innovative as we continue to evolve treatment ideas. Interested in booking a speaker?

click here to book a speaker

Content Descriptions

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    Social Thinking Across the Home and School Day: The ILAUGH Model (kinder - young adult)

    Discover an array of strategies that bolster social learning and support the Common Core/State Standards! Explore lessons to make the abstract social world more concrete and understandable. Through the ILAUGH Model of Social Thinking learn how social ability impacts academic success. Uncover how challenges in social communication, executive functioning and perspective taking impact written expression, reading comprehension, organizational skills, and working in a group; and learn strategies to improve all of the above! Rounding out the day: learn essential tips for effective IEP goal writing and data keeping.


    Participants will be able to:

    1. Explain how teaching "think with your eyes" is different from simply teaching good eye contact.
    2. Explain why a person with social learning deficits may have reading comprehension problems in the classroom.
    3. Distinguish and describe the difference between a useful IEP goal and one that is of little benefit.
    4. Describe how the use of spiral bound strategy cards can facilitate teaching how to initiate communication.
    5. Explain how gestalt processing relates to written expression and organizational skills.
    6. Describe a strategy to help students avoid blurting. 

    This conference day is designed to teach professionals and parents frameworks, concepts, and strategies so that they may better understand the social learning experience and guide others toward improved social processing and social skills.  Conference attendees will gain new insights into the power of their own social emotional intelligence as they explore their social motivations and how they process and respond to social information.  We will dissect the hidden rules, contemplate how social rules change with age, and discuss how social problem solving is at the heart of social skills, and affects how one interprets and responds to social-academic information and assignments. Social Thinking has developed a large range of treatment strategies, and attendees will walk away with a number of them including those for helping students avoid “the blurt”, cope with “boring moments”, and develop conversational language. Additionally, we will focus much of our attention on the ILAUGH Model of Social Thinking. The ILAUGH model is an acronym to represent treatment ideas and research related to: Initiating communication, Listening with the eyes and brain, Abstracting and inferencing, Understanding perspective, Getting the gist, and Humor & human relationships. The ILAUGH model not only demonstrates why people with social learning challenges have weaker social skills but also how social interpretation is linked to academic tasks such as written expression, conversational language, reading comprehension and organizational skills. As we wrap up the day, we will explore how we want to “teach in the roots” and not through the leaves of Social Thinking’s Social Learning Tree. We will then discuss how to write achievable IEP goals based on rubrics. Mainstream teachers find the information presented on this conference day applicable to all students as it pertains to social emotional learning, and audiences around the world love that it furthers their own social emotional insights!


    The Social Thinking Informal Dynamic Assessment and Core Treatment Strategies (kinder - young adult)

    Delve into the inner mind of a person with social learning challenges. Our Informal Dynamic Assessment is designed to uncover why an individual may struggle to work in a group or interpret information. Use the results to tailor treatment plans and track progress. Through video clips and discussion learn central concepts for running effective Social Thinking treatment groups and lessons to use at home. Finally, explore three core Social Thinking strategies to use immediately: Social Behavior Mapping, The Friendship Pyramid, and The Spirals of Social Anxiety.


    Participants will be able to:

    1. Describe how to assess "thinking with your eyes" and how this is different from identifying what someone is looking at.
    2. Describe the core components of the "Double Interview" and explain how it helps assess perspective taking.
    3. Describe how to fill out each of the four columns on the Social Behavior Map.
    4. Describe the Four Steps of Communication as a primary component to assessing and treating social skill deficits.
    5. Define at least three of five different stages of making friends and how to teach students to advance from one stage to the next.
    6. Explain how the “excuse bucket” impacts an individual’s ability to teach their brain new concepts and skills.

    We launch the day exploring three practical frameworks and teaching strategies. First, Social Behavior Mapping (SBM) is a visual framework that teaches how to better understand the social expectations in a given situation. SBM then guides us to strategies specific to an individual’s needs as they discover what’s “expected" or “unexpected" in a social situation and how their behavior impacts the feelings of others.  How others feels about us impacts how they treat us in that situation and ultimately affects our own feelings!  Social Behavior Mapping has been widely adopted for use with all ages.  This core Social Thinking tool reflects our Cognitive Behavioral teaching style. Next, we explain through a visual framework the journey between learning to be friendly and maintaining successful friendships through our Peer-a-mid of Friendships.  We will delve into what it means to be a friend, distinguishing between 1) "being friendly," 2) developing a friendship, and 3) having a "bonded friend." We will also discuss how conversational skills are only one component to keeping friends - as "hanging out" actually means we share space without necessarily talking! For individuals with strong social self-awareness but nuanced social learning challenges, social anxiety commonly emerges as another factor to be considered in treatment. The visual tools named the Spiral of Social Success and the Spiral of Social Failure guide how we teach social competencies while also teaching how to manage social anxiety.We will also offer some basic concepts and ideas for running Social Thinking groups.  Our treatment goals are to help make the abstractions of the social world more easily interpreted through our concrete explanations! We round out the day by demonstrating to parents and professionals how to better understand the inner minds of individuals with social learning challenges when our standardized testing falls short. We introduce the Informal Dynamic Social Thinking  (IDST) Assessment, a tool described in Michelle's book, Thinking About YOU Thinking About ME, 2nd Edition. IDST assessment tasks are useful as part of the initial or three-year testing process – and can also be used by any parent or professional to better understand how an individual processes and responds to social information. The IDST is invaluable in learning more about the way individuals think, and how their social thinking challenges affect their social and academic learning. This, in turn, illuminates why they need direct teaching of social concepts and arms us with relevant knowledge to determine specific treatment strategies that are best aligned with their needs. Video footage of the informal assessment will demonstrate ways in which all of us (diagnosticians, parents, paraprofessionals, treatment clinicians, etc.) can work more effectively with our students. Parents and professionals give high praise for the highly practical nature of this workshop.


    Thinking About YOU Thinking About ME (kinder - young adult)

    We answer the question: What are a person's core social learning challenges and how can we help? Improve your understanding of an individual's social mind using the Social Thinking Social Communication Profile. With the help of video clips we uncover different levels of perspective taking, executive functioning and central coherence. Discover strategies to help each type of learner improve his or her social interpretation, social skills, reading comprehension and written expression. Learn about the Four Steps of Communication and how to use social media to teach its concepts. All information can strengthen treatment plans and can be used in the home, school and community.


    Participants will be able to:

    1. Define what "perspective taking" means and how it impacts academic learning as well as social communication.
    2. Define at least four different levels of the Social Thinking-Social Communication Profile.
    3. Explain why some treatment programs work for a particular level of ST-SCP functioning and are not as effective with another functioning level.
    4. Explain why social observation is critical for interpreting language.
    5. List the four steps involved in developing social communication skills.
    6. Describe a treatment activity that aligns with each of the four steps above.

    Ever wondered how most people can intuitively “read” other people and make split-second decisions about how to interact with them? The process of social communication requires perspective taking. Perspective taking is not one thing but requires many things to happen at once, including conceptual processing (central coherence), figuring out the gist of the situation (executive functioning), and considering the thoughts and emotions of oneself as well as others (theory of mind). This workshop will explore how central these skills and others are to all social contact, nonverbal or verbal, intentional or unintentional. Audiences rave about this workshop day as being filled with research-based information while helping attendees better understand the specific social and academic needs of their students or children. The day starts with exploring the normal development of the social mind. We then move on to explore the different levels of social learning challenges and how they impact a person at school, at home, and into the adult years. In the afternoon, we will explore basic treatment concepts for our “higher functioning” clients, including the Four Steps of Communication and other practical treatment strategies. Clips from popular movies and TV shows will demonstrate how the media can be used to help teach social thinking and encourage social learning. To better understand the different levels of the social mind, we will present our newest information with our model, The Cascade of Social Attention. The Cascade helps us to better understand why individuals have different social learning abilities, even if they share the same diagnostic label.  We provide further information on this topic through a framework we have created called the Social Thinking-Social Communication Profile™ (ST-SCP), formerly known as the Spectrum of Perspective-Taking. The ST-SCP was developed based on years of clinical work focusing on more efficient and effective treatments to help students evolve in their social thinking abilities. Four of the seven levels defined in the ST-SCP will be reviewed during this conference day, illuminating how varying levels of social learning lead to different competencies - exposing why some treatments are more effective than others. As attendees better understand the social functioning of a particular individual, they can select the treatment best suited for the specific needs of that person.If our goal is to help others gain access to critical information they can use across their lives, it is essential that we move away from the idea that all persons with social learning challenges can benefit from the same treatment group or classroom. The ST-SCP not only facilitates a better understanding of an individual’s social and academic learning needs, it helps to define which individuals need to work on learning social rules versus which individuals need help with social nuance - and why this difference is essential. See why the number of buttons a student buttons on a shirt can guide our treatment practices! This is a fascinating day to explore how the little characteristics we notice in our students may be symptoms of a deeper social learning challenge.


    Implementing Social Thinking Concepts and Vocabulary: A Day to Develop Team Creativity (kinder - young adult)

    Learn over 25 unique Social Thinking concepts and vocabulary! Help individuals advance their ability to understand the social context and tailor their behaviors accordingly. Help others improve their social observational skills, how they work in a group, share an imagination, understand what it means to be a "Just Me"; versus "Thinking of Others" person, and relate more effectively with language. Discover tools for teaching self-regulation, executive functioning, emotional understanding and theory of mind/perspective taking. Work in teams to develop lesson plans to implement new strategies in your home, clinic, or classroom the very next day. People love this hands-on, engaging workshop!


    Participants will be able to:

    1. Describe why the context or situation is key for figuring out social expectations and related social skills.
    2. Describe the core five steps of Social Behavior Mapping to help teach social responsibility.
    3. Define at least five Social Thinking Vocabulary concepts.
    4. Describe how Social Thinking Vocabulary concepts facilitate generalization across settings.
    5. Describe the difference between sharing an imagination and a singular imagination as these relate to conversations and reading comprehension.
    6. Using one or more of the strategies reviewed in the workshop, describe what you can do differently with your student tomorrow.

    This conference day is all about Social Thinking Vocabulary and concepts! Teach students to communicate through concepts such as “working as part of a group”, the “three parts of play,” “abstracting and inferencing information” and “sharing an imagination”. We will examine clinical examples that highlight how to make these abstract concepts more concrete and teachable. The Social Thinking Vocabulary is the backbone of Social Thinking teaching programs. Research published in 2008 in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (Crooke, et al.) demonstrated how individuals benefited from learning these concepts. The study found that once children were taught how to think about the concepts, they were able to generalize the information. Participants will work in groups to learn how to use Social Thinking concepts across settings, creating one or two of their own lesson plans. We explore how to make lessons applicable across a variety of environments, and focus on enabling students to apply the lessons into the rest of their lives. Michelle will present some lessons from her book, Think Social! A Social Thinking Curriculum for School Aged Students, which is used in school districts around the world. This conference day offers an advanced exploration of Social Thinking – and is particularly suited for those who have read Social Thinking books, attended our workshops or are otherwise familiar with Social Thinking concepts. It is intended as a more advanced course for people who have attended one or more of the following workshops: Social Thinking Across the Home and School Day:  The ILAUGH Model, The Social Thinking Informal Dynamic Assessment and Core Treatment Strategies, Thinking About YOU Thinking About ME AND/OR Have read one or more of the following books: Thinking About YOU, Thinking About ME, Inside Out: What Makes a Person With Social Cognitive Deficits Tick?, Think Social! A Social Thinking Curriculum.


    Case-by-Case: Using Videos and Guided Observation to Develop Social Thinking Targets (kinder - young adult)

    Using video clips, we will explore how to develop the scope and sequence of unique lessons for individuals with different types of social learning abilities. Guided longitudinal observation using video footage following specific individuals over 10-15 years will be reviewed to help narrow the focus in treatment planning and predict some treatment outcomes. We will also give tips for writing solid IEP goals, developing rubrics for data collection, brainstorming lesson development and embedding related treatment strategies. Teaching connections will be made to the Common Core / State Educational Standards.


    Participants will be able to:

    1. Describe how to teach clients to understand the difference between reality-based comments and fantasy driven statements.
    2. Describe one practical lesson to facilitate social attention in a group.
    3. Explain how to use visual supports to foster the development of specific skills related to social conversational skills.
    4. Demonstrate how to write and score rubrics related to social thinking goals and objectives.
    5. Explain two critical factors related to social thinking and social skills that impact an individuals’ outcome in life.

    How do we teach individuals to hold a thought in their heads? How do we explore the fact that there is a difference in how others interpret the statements: “I wish ____” vs. “I am ____?” What strategies encourage the ability to pay attention to others' thoughts, motives, and intentions?  What does it take to improve conversational interactions? (More than we think.) In this conference, we will explore treatment frameworks and hands-on strategies not currently taught in other Social Thinking conference days.  We will use video clips of individuals in treatment sessions to demonstrate the scope and sequence that we use to teach important Social Thinking concepts. We will also provide samples of specific treatment tools for the audience to use to develop a deeper understanding of social conversational engagement. We will discuss how executive functioning, theory of mind, and central coherence form the heart of social thinking and related social skills. As always, we will tie this information to State and Common Core Educational Standards to show that we teach social concepts - not in addition to the educational standards - but as part of core social academic instruction. We will also brainstorm lessons and strategies in teams, and give tips for writing solid IEP goals and developing rubrics for data collection. Guided observation of longitudinal video footage over 10-15 years (for specific individuals) will also be used to help narrow the focus in treatment and predict some treatment outcomes. We will show interviews with adult clients and parents to help participants frame how social skills, social thinking, social expectations and personal accomplishments shift across a lifetime.

    Getting Organized: Tackling the Dreaded Homework Assignment and Other Deadlines (5th graders - young adults)

    The majority of individuals with social cognitive learning challenges have difficulty managing their schoolwork and other deadlines. Like our social skills, our organizational skills are expected to advance over time without much instruction though they are critical for success in adulthood. In this workshop, discover strategies that foster an individual's executive functioning and organizational skills. Explore the 10 steps to completing a homework assignment and learn a strategy aligned to each step. Strategies can be used at home, in the community and in the mainstream and special education classrooms.


    Participants will be able to:

    1. Increase awareness of their own organizational structures so they can better offer support to others.
    2. Define the difference between static and dynamic organizational skills.
    3. Define a strategy for helping individuals explore their own motivation when approaching complex tasks.
    4. Describe the 10-step model to understand the deeper organizational skills and support each step with an instructional strategy.
    5. Describe the importance of time prediction and how analog clocks teach this concept differently than digital clocks.
    6. Describe how a Gantt chart is helpful in understanding multiple assignments across time.

    The vast majority of individuals with social learning challenges have immense difficulty developing organizational skills to manage the increasingly complex expectations of life in upper elementary, middle, high school and into their adult years. Our organizational abilities emerge from our executive functioning skills that are expected to develop through time with minimal instruction. However, for many individuals finding motivation, knowing how to get started on a project, and managing time across a variety of homework assignments can feel like an overwhelming set of tasks - even for the most intellectually sharp individuals. The impact of poor organizational skills is immense; it affects one's outcome in school, at work, well as at home. People often misinterpret these folks as being lazy, without understanding that these challenges are more likely the result of a neurologically-based executive function weaknesses than a lack of desire to be competent in their work. Often, relatively little support is provided by parents and teachers to guide individuals to develop these critical skills.  Even those who want to provide support are not sure where to begin! This conference day teaches about these critical executive functioning skills and provides practical strategies for individuals to track and tackle homework and other deadline-based duties. We explore two types of organizational skills: static and dynamic, and then break apart dynamic organizational skills into 10 concrete steps. Each step is integral in the completion of a "homework assignment." We then give an educational strategy aligned with each step and provide an extensive take-home handout to support this teaching method. This conference day has been enthusiastically received by parents, counselors, mainstream and special education teachers, administrators, psychologists, speech language pathologists, occupational therapists, etc. As with most Social Thinking workshops, hands-on activities help attendees relate their own experiences to the challenges discussed. We do not merely give a general description of the issues. Instead, we guide attendees to actively explore key concepts and to appreciate the pivotal role adults play in educating their students/children. While this workshop was designed to help individuals with social learning challenges, the information provided has also proven to be relevant to all students and young adults. This information is cutting edge for all populations!


    ZOOMING IN: Strategies for Concrete Learners (kinder - young adult)

    Delve into the needs of our more literal learners who may have diagnoses such as ASD, ADHD, language learning or sensory integration challenges. They are often perplexed by the abstractions of the school curriculum, show marked difficulty in reading social cues, and are often aloof and less organized. Discover how best to teach individuals based on their age and how to enhance learning in the inclusion-based classroom. Explore lessons that translate abstract social concepts into concrete ideas that can help improve social understanding over time. Participants are provided with tools to tie social treatment plans to the Common Core Standards. Audience members love the many video examples and treatment tools!


    Participants will be able to:

    1. Describe four core characteristics of Challenged and Emerging Social Communicators and explain why these students struggle to learn social and academic concepts in groups and as a result require different social thinking lessons from Nuance Challenged Social Communicators.
    2. Develop a lesson for an individual with characteristics of an Emerging Social Communicator. The lesson will include visual support(s) and/or worksheets to translate abstract concepts to more concrete ideas.
    3. Describe at least one additional treatment approach to use in conjunction with Social Thinking for individuals who function as Challenged and Emerging Social Communicators. 

    This conference day focuses on developing rule-based social learning activities that connect to the Common Core/State Standards and support the student with significant social processing challenges. We will concentrate specifically on students who are described as Challenged or Emerging Social Communicators (CSC and ESC) on our Social Thinking-Social Communication Profile. These students are more literal, more aloof, miss sarcasm, are less organized, show marked difficulty reading social contextual cues from people and the situation, comprehending reading material, expressing themselves through writing, and appear more awkward in their attempts to socially engage with their peers. The emphasis of this day will be around expanding our understanding of where to start and how to progress with these students based on their age, what is realistic to teach, and how to apply this learning in the inclusion-based classroom. Because this conference day is focused on expanding and deepening knowledge around Social Thinking strategies, it is advised that participants already have basic knowledge about Social Thinking and introductory treatment concepts. Participants should familiarize themselves with the Social Thinking-Social Communication Profile by reading the article, Social Communication Learning Styles as a Guide to Treatment and Prognosis: The Social Thinking‐Social Communication Profile™.


    ZOOMING IN: Strategies for Individuals with Subtle but Significant Social Problems (kinder - young adult)

    Explore the needs of nuance-challenged social communicators who may have diagnoses such as Asperger's syndrome, ASD, ADHD, or social anxiety. They are often in mainstream education and struggle with the intricacies of social relationships, homework assignments, and working in peer-based groups. Discover effective strategies that encourage nuanced perspective taking and executive functioning while attending to the person's mental health. Take with you nuance-based social learning lessons for use in both treatment plans and in the mainstream classroom to support the Common Core/State Standards.


    Participants will be able to:

    1. Describe four core characteristics of those considered to be Nuance Challenged Social Communicators and how to consider those characteristics in group planning.
    2. Describe how to develop strategies for use in school and home settings, differentiating cognitive behavioral treatment from applied behavior analysis.
    3. Develop lessons or a group of lessons geared toward students with more nuance-based challenges. The lessons will include the creation of worksheets to translate abstract concepts into more concrete ideas.
    4. Create a social learning activity that can be used in an inclusion-based learning environment to engage all students in the classroom.

    This conference day will explore how to work with individuals who struggle with self-regulation, social anxiety, and depression (Nuance Challenged Social Communicator). We will offer nuance-based social learning activities that connect to the Common Core Standards, and take a deeper look at how teaching lessons related to social nuance differs from teaching social “rules.” Individuals in this group may represent a range of diagnoses such as: ADHD, Asperger’s, PDD-NOS, ODD, OCD, NVLD – or be undiagnosed. Nuance-based social learners tend to have significant issues, yet they are least likely to get peer mentor support because they often appear to “blend in” with their peers, at least from an adult perspective. They are also the most likely to be bullied since they are seen by their peers as subtly different. As a result, they may have significant social anxiety and experience meltdown moments. Many have considerable challenges with Executive Functioning such as asking for help, working in peer-based groups, and doing homework. There tends to be an underlying struggle to interpret the intentions and perspective of others, but a keen ability to notice when others aren’t following the social rules. These individuals often act without a deeper understanding of the social situation or how their actions affect those around them. Because this conference day is focused on expanding and deepening knowledge around Social Thinking strategies, it is advised that participants already have basic knowledge about Social Thinking and introductory treatment concepts. Participants should familiarize themselves with the Social Thinking-Social Communication Profile by reading the article, Social Communication Learning Styles as a Guide to Treatment and Prognosis: The Social Thinking--‐Social Communication Profile™.


    Social Detective, Superflex®, and Friends Take On Social Emotional Learning (kinder - 8th grade)

    You've asked for this day! Learn how to effectively use two of our key teaching materials: our award-winning first book in the Superflex series, You are a Social Detective! and our Superflex Curriculum to boost social awareness, social learning, and self-regulation. Lessons support Social and Emotional Learning, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, and Response to Intervention. These books are designed for elementary school-age children, but we explain how to modify them for use with slightly older and younger kids. Interactive, creative group activities abound in this conference to help our kids transform from 'Me' thinkers to 'We' thinkers!


    Participants will be able to:

    1. Define the concept of 'hidden rules' and its importance for self-monitoring and behavioral regulation.
    2. Explain why we modify the Superflex Curriculum for K-2nd graders so that they are not asked to defeat their Unthinkables.
    3. Describe how Superflex teaches self-awareness, self-monitoring and self-control to 3rd-5th graders.
    4. Explain how Superflex's Five Point Power Plan helps to foster deeper social learning for 3-5th graders.
    5. Explain how You are a Social Detective! and Superflex can be used in social-academic lessons that relate to the Common Core/State Standards (e.g. Speaking and Listening, Reading Literature and Writing) for all elementary school grades.
    6. Describe how using Social Thinking Vocabulary with all students (school wide), and using the curricula You are A Social Detective and Superflex help to forward the mission of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS).

    You asked for this day! You have been asking about how to use some of our core curricula with different types of learners and ages – and voila – here is the answer. This workshop day will focus on how to use strategies in our core curricula You are a Social Detective! and Superflex®. We will explore how to use these and other tools to foster social attention and self regulation in developmentally appropriate ways for students in kindergarten through middle school. We will describe the connections between the Social Thinking concepts and the Common Core/State Standards, how these concepts integrate with Social Emotional Learning, and the interrelationships with Response to Intervention (RTI) and Positive Behavioral Intervention Supports (PBIS). This interactive conference day will be filled with creative group activities to help our students move from being 'Me' thinkers to 'We' thinkers!   More specifically we will be exploring: The core concepts we are teaching through these curricula that weaves throughout the school-age years. Linking the Common Core/State Standards and examples of how You are a Social Detective and Superflex have been used in the mainstream classroom to help teach literature, writing, conflict resolution and working as part of a group. How we adapt our teachings for Kindergartners, young elementary school students, older elementary school students, and how the core lessons transfer into middle school and high school. How to encourage children to become social detectives to figure out the hidden rules. Creative ideas to help students learn self-awareness, self-monitoring and self-control through the teachings of Superflex's Five-Point Power Plan. How these lessons are used as part of Social Emotional Learning (SEL), Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and Response to Intervention (RTI). How to foster your own super-flexible creativity when teaching these lessons to your own children or students. PLEASE NOTE: This conference day focuses on the use of the books You are a Social Detective, Superflex… a Superhero Social Thinking Curriculum, to teach concepts related to Social Thinking. Our intention is NOT to market the products, but instead teach how to use these curricula in the manner they were designed. Our hope is to increase the consistency and fidelity in the ways in which all of us are teaching these concepts. If you (or your district or place of employment) are uncomfortable with a full day focusing on strategies related to products, please select another conference day to attend.


    Teaching Social Thinking to Early Learners through Stories and Play-Based Activities (pre-K - 2nd grade)

    Connecting the dots: guide children's early social learning and play experiences to strengthen social thinking and classroom learning. Using video examples and multi-sensory lessons, we provide helpful strategies and Social Thinking Vocabulary to teach children core concepts such as thinking thoughts and feeling feelings, thinking with their eyes, learning about the group plan, developing self-awareness about their body in the group and how they use their whole body to listen! Engaging activities help kids learn in a group through social exploration and play. Core information is from our award-winning curriculum, story, and music collection: The Incredible Flexible You™ Vol 1.


    Participants will be able to:

    1. Identify at least four key milestones that underlie the development of social cognitive skills birth to five years of age.
    2. Explain why a preschool or early elementary aged child with a social cognitive learning challenge may have trouble with collaborative pretend play.
    3. Discuss the difference between a skills-based approach and a social cognitive-based approach.
    4. Identify ways to structure collaborative play experiences in preschool and early elementary settings.
    5. Describe ways to teach at least five Social Thinking Vocabulary concepts to students ages 4-7.

    This conference day introduces professionals and parents to the many important facets of development that underlie social learning in preschool and early elementary aged children.  What looks like pure fun to us has important social consequences for the developing mind. The ability to participate in collaborative pretend play depends upon having a flexible brain, competent language ability, self regulation, and solid social-emotional development as well the executive function skills to multi-task the use of all of the above! The Common Core Standards highlight the importance of “listening and collaboration” in the classroom, which are hallmarks of developmental learning in preschool and during the early elementary years. The first component of this conference day is designed to give participants knowledge of the key components of social cognitive development from birth to five years of age. Social-emotional growth, executive functioning/self-regulation and their interactive impact on socio-communicative abilities will also be discussed. Finally, the roots of collaborative, cooperative imaginative play and its connection to pre-academic function will be covered.  The second aspect of this talk will focus on how to put the research and best practices of teaching social into action.  We will introduce 10 Social Thinking Vocabulary concepts that have been adapted for children ages 4-7:  Thoughts and Feelings, The Group Plan, Thinking With Your Eyes, Body in the Group, Whole Body Listening, Expected/Unexpected, Smart Guess, Flexible and Stuck Thinking, Size of the Problem, and Sharing an Imagination.  We will explore methods to teach these concepts through story books, music, structured activities, and play.  We will also look at different strategies for service delivery in a variety of settings. Strategies for home and school are designed for young children with average to strong language and learning abilities.  PLEASE NOTE: This conference day focuses on the use of one product - The Incredible Flexible You. Our goal for this day is NOT to market this product, but instead teach how to understand and use the curriculum in the manner it was designed. Our hope is to increase the consistency and fidelity in the ways in which all of us are teaching these concepts. If you (or your district or place of employment) are uncomfortable with a full day focusing on strategies related to a product(s), please select another conference day to attend.


    What Does Play Have to Do with Classroom Learning? Exploring Social Executive Functioning and Social Emotional Learning for Early Learners (pre-K - 2nd grade)

    Practical, fun, and innovative strategies! Investigate how to help kids work, play, and learn in groups as well as improve their flexible thinking. We delve deeply into the following teaching concepts: understanding social expectations, flexible versus stuck thinking, identifying the size of the problem, making smart guesses, and sharing an imagination. Introducing Social Thinking's newest tool for treatment planning, the Group Play and Problem Solving Scale, to differentiate the play-based teaching methods appropriate for each child. Core information is from our upcoming curriculum, The Incredible Flexible You, Vol 2.


    Participants will be able to:

    1. Describe two strategies for helping individuals learn to be more flexible thinkers. 
    2. Describe two strategies to help individuals learn how problem solving involves self-regulation. 
    3. Design a lesson to promote a child’s development of shared, collaborative, imaginative play (SCIP). 
    4. Describe two aspects of each of the five levels of play as explained through Social Thinking’s Group Play and Problem Solving Scale (ST-GPS). 
    5. Define two different strategies to provide differentiated instruction to students who have different SCIP based play abilities. 
    6. Explain how to teach students how to read the “hidden rules” to figure out what behaviors are expected in a specific situation. 

    Social executive functioning is at the heart of developing Shared, Collaborative, Interactive Play (SCIP). On this conference day we will teach how to move from the five basic Social Thinking lesson sets in The Incredible Flexible You Volume 1, our early learner curriculum, story books and music CD to the more complex lessons presented in Volume 2 (to be released in Winter, 2015). This day is filled with creative activities, which align with the research and extend our thinking about how to work, play and learn in groups.  Attendees will engage in group learning activities and learn strategies to use in their classroom or home the very next day! We will present concepts that include but are not limited to: The role of play and working as part of a group in the development of self-regulation, impulse control, social problem solving, and executive functioning. Why a child who has difficulty with social attention will have trouble with sharing an imagination and interacting/playing with peers. Strategies for individuals to develop the skills to decipher the “hidden rules” and social expectations in a specific context. The strategies revolve around the concepts of Flexible verses Stuck Thinking, recognizing the Size of the Problem, and strategies to stay calm, making Smart Guesses, and Sharing an Imagination. Learn to use our newest tool, Social Thinking’s Group Play and Problem Solving Scale (GPS) to understand the five different levels of play and how that relates to classroom participation and the Common Core/State Standards! Learn how the lessons and activities in the The Incredible Flexible You curriculum are adapted for each level of the Social Thinking’s GPS. Explore how all of this is part of Social Emotional Learning that can be used in pre K-2 mainstream classrooms, connects to Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) as well as Response to Intervention (RTI).

    Day F

    “I’m going to be a video game designer!” Helping Teens Prepare for the Adult World (middle schoolers - young adults)

    Transitioning into adulthood and living as a young adult can overwhelm an individual born to social learning challenges. This workshop helps parents and professionals prepare their teens for life outside of the regimented school day. Learn how to strengthen social, vocational, and life skills. Explore strategies to manage anxiety and encourage more nuanced perspective taking, responsibility, and self-awareness. Discover how the law changes for a high school student as they transition from an IEP or 504 plan into living as an emancipated adult. The content presented is based on research as well as years of experience working with teens and adults.


    Participants will be able to:

    1. Describe how the ILAUGH model is relevant for issues involved in the transition to adulthood, such as university or job skill success.
    2. Explain a "realistic transition plan" and name three items to focus on during transition planning.
    3. Create a lesson to teach students to evaluate their motivation and become accountable for applying what they have learned in other settings.
    4. Explain how anxiety can be a "stop sign" in an individual's ability to use social thinking and related skills.
    5. Explain a way to teach students to graph their "good" job skills, including being accurate and productive, in addition to social thinking skills.
    6. Explain how a student can learn to identify and prioritize his or her own treatment goals.

    Transitioning into adulthood can overwhelm individuals born to social learning challenges, even those who are "bright" with strong language skills. This conference day focuses on helping parents, professionals and individuals undergo this transition. It is important that both adults and teens begin to consider a plan for the transition into adulthood while the individual is in middle school. By providing concrete ways to develop a realistic transition plan, we help teens and their parents prepare for life outside the more regimented schedule of the school day. We will explore how the world becomes more nuanced as we age, and strategies to help individuals develop a more mature Social Thinking mindset - including an "I can do this" and "I need to do this" attitude. We will review concrete strategies to teach teens about the concepts of responsibility, motivation, and anxiety management; and discuss ideas they can use in forming a range of friendships. Ultimately, we want to help students learn to be more comfortable with the fact they are going to be increasingly uncomfortable with the demands of young adulthood. We will also explore how the law applies differently once a high school student transitions from an IEP or 504 plan into a junior college or university program and becomes an emancipated adult. We will conclude with practical lessons for promoting productivity, accuracy, and social-emotional problem solving in vocational environments. Prior to attending this conference day, please read a blog written by Michelle Garcia Winner and a parent of an adult with social communication challenges: Adults: Becoming the Directors of Their Own Treatment Teams and Treatment Plans.

    Day G

    Let’s Get Real: Tackling Dilemmas Faced by Adults with Social Learning Challenges (middle schoolers - mature adults)

    Bringing a very practical lens to adult clients experiences. Identify the common social breakdowns that cause bright adults to veer out of relationships or fall off career tracks, and explore strategies to help them stay on track. Learn what it means to be an independent adult, the difference between a social informer and a social relator, and how emotions synchronize with our conversations. Discover the 5 Steps to Social Thinking Psychology and the Social Thinking Social-Emotional Chain Effect to which we all subconsciously react and respond. Adults benefit from direct teaching of Social Thinking and related social skills. Come learn what you can do to help!


    Participants will be able to:

    1. Describe the meaning of "social thinking nuance and sophistication" of the adult mind and how this influences our expectations and intervention strategies.
    2. List in the four skills we have in mind when we refer to someone as functioning independently as an adult.
    3. Describe three elements related to the Social-Emotional Chain Effect and how this awareness impacts our own communicative interpretation and responses.
    4. Explain why in Social Thinking we describe everyone as having "social paranoia" and how this affects what we teach.
    5. Define the term "emotional compression" and how this relates to what we teach students and how they react to others.
    6. Explain how to review with a teen/adult his or her strengths and weaknesses to help them put social learning challenges in context.

    This conference day is the sequel to the conference, “I’m going to be a video game designer!” Helping Teens Prepare for the Adult World - with a continued emphasis on teaching children and teens the concepts and skills they will need as they emerge into adulthood. However, on this day the focus moves into the world of adult work, the social-emotional expectations that exist in the workplace, and what it takes to live as an independent adult. We set aside diagnostic labels and discuss the broader concept that we all live within social boundaries and want others to include us and show they value us, whether or not we realize it. We introduce the 5 Steps to Social Thinking Psychology and also the Social Thinking Social-Emotional Chain Effects to which we all subconsciously react and respond. Through review of dilemmas encountered by bright adults who have fallen off career tracks, we demonstrate where social learning breakdowns happen and discuss strategies to avoid them – including strategies for coping and for working as part of a team. In addition, we redefine what it means to function as an "independent adult". Remarkably, even college-educated, scientifically or artistically gifted adults who are living "on their own" may still not be able to manage all adult expectations until we teach them how to function independently. We will also address the complex issues that parents of these adults face. Teachers and parents of school-age students have described this conference day as impactful for orienting their teachings toward encouraging success in the adult years. Prior to attending this workshop, please read a blog written by Michelle Garcia Winner and a parent of an adult with social communication challenges: Adults: Becoming the Directors of Their Own Treatment Teams and Treatment Plans. The Reason for This Conference Day:  When we released our book, Socially Curious and Curiously Social: A Social Thinking Guidebook for Teens and Young Adults, we were flooded with requests for a conference day to teach Social Thinking to adults. Many adults were writing us, requesting we address their specific issues, while many counseling and psychology groups asked for our treatment methodology. There is little comprehensive information offered in conferences to address the needs of our "smart" but at times "clueless" adults, many of whom were never diagnosed and have received few concrete treatments. As a result, we developed this two-day workshop to meet these pressing needs.


    Social Thinking Meets RTI and PBS: Social Thinking as a School Wide Systems Approach (kinder-young adult)

    This presentation explores the dynamics of using Social Thinking concepts in a school setting based on the differentiation models of RTI and PBS, while incorporating with existing initiatives already in place. Designed to address the diverse learning needs of all students, participants will explore how Social Thinking concepts can be integrated into the core curriculum to increase access to the Common Core State Standards for all students. Information presented demonstrates how the intentional teaching of Social Thinking concepts enhances student learning at the benchmark level, while decreasing behavioral and discipline referrals at the strategic and intensive levels.


    Participants will be able to:

    1. Describe systems for teaching Social Thinking in a Differentiated Instruction Model.
    2. Gain data collection tools for Universal Screening and progress monitoring of Social Thinking skills.
    3. Review a plan for introducing, planning for and implementing a school wide Social Thinking model.

    Students with Social Thinking challenges, such as those with ASD, ADHD, NLD, Social Communication Disorder, and other social and behaviorally-based disorders often struggle in the areas of organization, attention, social engagement, group dynamics, and self-regulation; all of which make learning difficult. In this presentation, we will explore how the Social Thinking framework can easily be introduced school wide, offer strategies to differentiate Social Thinking instruction across the three tiers of intervention and describe effective tools for universal screening, data collection, progress monitoring, and more. The model presented is based on the framework of RTI and PB/PBIS. Response to Intervention (RTI) is a multi-tiered method of academic intervention designed to provide early, effective assistance to struggling learners at increasing levels of intensity. It is designed to address the learning needs of all students, school wide, through academic supports aligned with individual student need. Positive Behavior Supports (PBS/PBIS) is another school initiative that uses a differentiated system of supports to increase learning and decrease problem behavior. RTI and PBS are both used at the group and individual level and help educators and intervention providers ensure that instructional practices are high quality, based on scientific evidence, and are assessment driven, differentiated, and specific. Information gained from an RTI or PBS process is used by school personnel and parents to adapt instruction as needed to facilitate student learning.


    Problem Solving with Kids! Combining Collaborative & Proactive Solutions with Social Thinking to Teach Everyone New Skills (kinder - young adult)

    It doesn't get more exciting than this! Dr. Ross Greene and Michelle Garcia Winner team up to help tackle a range of problems experienced by parents, professionals and students. Ross will describe his empirically supported Collaborative Proactive Solutions model to shift the focus from modifying a child's challenging behavior to working to solve the problems that are causing that behavior. Michelle, the founder of Social Thinking, will discuss how the heart of social interaction is the ability to socially problem solve. A set of lessons will be shared to encourage students to take ownership of their problems and manage their daily dilemmas more effectively.


    Participants will be able to:

    1. Identify and prioritize unsolved problems precipitating challenging behavior.
    2. Describe the three basic mechanisms by which adults handle unsolved problems and unmet expectations in kids (Plans A, B, and C) and what is accomplished by each, and the three steps or “ingredients” of Plan B.
    3. Describe how to effectively implement Plan B to solve problems, teach skills, and reduce the frequency and intensity of challenging behavior.
    4. Describe how teaching a student to label a current or potential problem is at the heart of conflict resolution.
    5. Use Social Thinking’s Social Problem Solving Thinksheet to explain how to teach individuals to recognize what makes for a “good” or “poor” choice when problem solving.
    6. Describe a progression of lessons to help individuals better communicate when stressed in order to problem solve their dilemmas.

    It doesn’t get more exciting than this!  Dr. Ross Greene and Michelle Garcia Winner team up to help participants tackle a range of problems experienced by parents, professionals, and students. Ross will present on his empirically supported model shared through his influential books The Explosive Child and Lost at School.  The Collaborative & Proactive Solutions (CPS) model has transformed thinking and practices in countless schools, inpatient psychiatry units, and residential and juvenile detention facilities. It has been associated with dramatic reductions in disciplinary referrals, detentions, suspensions, seclusions, and physical, chemical, and mechanical restraints.  The model represents a significant departure from discipline-as-usual:  it focuses on solving problems rather than on modifying behavior, emphasizes collaborative rather than unilateral solutions, encourages proactive rather than reactive intervention, de-emphasizes diagnostic categories, and provides practical, research-based tools for assessment and intervention. Ross will describe the key themes of the CPS model, how to assess lagging skills and unsolved problems, the three options (Plans A, B, and C) for solving problems with kids, and the ins and outs of solving problems collaboratively and proactively. Attendees will leave with an understanding of the underpinnings of the model, along with practical assessment and intervention tools to be used in a range of diverse settings. During her presentation, Michelle will explain how solving problems is at the heart of learning personal and social responsibility. In order to teach individuals how to engage in the problem solving process, we must also address social learning issues related to Theory of Mind, executive functioning and central coherence.  This leads us to teaching flexible thinking, exploring others’ points of view, making choices, identifying consequences, and a range of other strategies for helping people initiate communication and action plans related to their problems in times of stress. The ability to “blend in” socially is more about problem solving than it is about memorizing social skills to apply across different situations. It is through problem solving that we figure out how to choose and adapt our social and organizational skills to meet the hidden rules of any situation. Moving through a problem solving process to avoid or tackle difficult moments can also lead us to improved conflict resolution skills. Attendees will be provided a tool and a series of activities to engage individuals in the social and organizational problem solving process. This information is critical for improving social communication competencies. 

Social Thinking Training & Speaker's Collaborative

Social Thinking Training & Speakers' Collaborative (STTSC) is a team of professionals, all of whom are teachers, clinicians or counselors who continue to actively work directly with clients. The STTSC is led by Michelle Garcia Winner (founder of Social Thinking) and Dr. Pamela Crooke; who have hand-picked the other members of the STTSC from regions around the USA and Asia. The Mission of the STTSC is to provide evidence based information and practical strategies for parents, professionals, family members, children/students as well as adults living with social learning challenges to be used in schools, homes, the community as well as across work settings. The collaborative members provide all-day conference trainings as well as customized on-going hourly trainings; they share practical strategies related to social learning across a large range of content and contexts in a down to earth and engaging manner.


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  • Social Academic Connection & Goal Writing
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  • Assessment Issues
  • Social Emotional & Mental Health
  • Social Skill Strategies Across the Ages & Related Treatment Options
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