Published Articles

Published Articles

Subtle Skills of Sociability

By Risca Solomon

Published in Autism Eye magazine, Spring, 2014.

Note: Autism Eye is a U.K. based quarterly magazine for parents and professionals who care for or work with children with autism. They are now offering free digital subscriptions! Learn more at www.autismeye.com.

Author Risca Solomon explains how the concept of Social Thinking may address the difficulties that many of our children face in learning the sophisticated art of personal interaction.

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Treatment Options Part III

Creating a Culture of Family-Centered Practice for the Autism Community (Part III)

Originally Published by Autism Spectrum Quarterly
Summer 2009 
Written By: Dr. Barry Prizant http://www.barryprizant.com/

In this third and final part of my series on “Treatment Options and Parent Choice”, I will consider ways that professionals serving children with ASD and their families can adopt practices to move closer to the goal of becoming family-centered. I will begin by considering the essential elements of family-centered practice, the ultimate goal of which is that of empowering families with the knowledge and skills to make the best choices for their children and for the family unit, as a whole.

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Treatment Options Part II

Treatment Options and Parent Choice (Part II):

Is ABA the Only Way? 

Originally Published by Autism Spectrum Quarterly
Spring 2009 
Written By: Dr. Barry Prizant http://www.barryprizant.com/

As noted in part one of this three-part series, educational and treatment approaches for children with ASD tend to be limited with respect to family-centered practice, and there is a dire need to move practice in this direction. In this discussion, we will consider a very popular and influential category of treatment approaches—applied behavior analysis—given that it is illustrative of an intervention technique that is often promoted in a manner that violates principles of family-centered philosophy and practice.

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Treatment Options Part I

Treatment Options and Parent Choice (Part I):

An Individualized Approach to Intervention 

Originally Published by Autism Spectrum Quarterly
Winter 2008 
Written By: Dr. Barry Prizant http://www.barryprizant.com/

Choices about educational and treatment approaches may be among the most important, yet anxiety-arousing decisions made by parents of children with autism. A few decades ago, the limited amount of information and number of choices available for supporting children with autism were sources of great frustration for parents. Today, the myriad educational and treatment approaches, and claims of success associated with some of them—most often made by those most invested in those approaches—are sources of overwhelming confusion for many parents. 

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The Fourth Step of Communication: Using Language to Relate to Others

Autism Asperger's Digest

Originally published by Autism Asperger's Digest Magazine
Column 9: Think Social
July-August 2009 issue
© 2009
Written by: Michelle Garcia Winner


Using Language to Relate to Others

In previous columns we explored the vital role that thinking about the people we are communicating with plays in successful interactions. How we relate to people is based on what we know about them: from prior memories (our “people files”) and through cues from the current situation. We also explored that we “think with our eyes” to assess a social situation. We watch others’ eyes to track what they may be thinking about (based on what they are looking at) and we also use our own eyes to provide social cues that we are attending to what is being said. The fourth and last step of communication relates to how we use the information gained from the other steps to relate to our communication partner(s). Interestingly, it is only at this last step that we introduce language!

It is important to note that our language-based communication strategies vary greatly from one situation to another. Stop and think for a minute about how our social language varies. We use one communication style when answering a teacher’s question in a classroom, and another very different style when having a serious problem-solving discussion, and an entirely different style of conversation when hanging out with peers. Each situation has its own “communication personality” and associated “hidden rules” of communication. That said, no matter what the situation, the people who communicate most effectively with others monitor and adjust their language to demonstrate they are thinking about their communication partner. Those who speak, but only seem to be thinking about themselves or their own interests, quickly find it difficult to find people willing to talk to them.

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Assessing the Social Mind in Action

The Importance of Informal Dynamic Assessments

By Michelle Garcia Winner & Pamela J. Crooke
(c) Autism News of Orange County - Summer 2009

While most of us engage in social interaction/regulation intuitively, many students with social learning challenges who have good to excellent language and cognition (e.g., High Functioning Autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified, Asperger Syndrome and/or Attention Deficit Disorder) are weak in their ability to think about how we think socially. They also often lag behind their peers in the development of their social relationship skills. Professionals may regard this higher functioning group as being "quirky" with some level of "social skill problems," but struggle when determining whether or not these students should qualify for specialized services in our schools, given that they may demonstrate strong academic knowledge. Nonetheless, the peer group is generally critical of how these students relate and may actively reject those who don't fit in. Furthermore, the deeper social learning challenges faced by this group may have an impact on how they interpret and respond to academic lessons that require social knowledge, such as reading comprehension of literature, written expression of essays, organizational skills and participating in peer-based (less structured) work groups. (Westby, 1985; Winner, 2000)

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The Third Step of Communication: Think With Your Eyes

Autism Asperger's Digest

Originally published by Autism Asperger's Digest Magazine
Column 8: Think Social
March-April 2009 issue
© 2009
Written by: Michelle Garcia Winner


Apparently within the autism community, the eyes have it. Peruse 10 different IEPs and you'll probably find goals or objectives involving eye contact on every one.

"Mary will make eye contact when conversing in class."

"George will respond to the command, ‘Look at me" appropriately 9 out of 10 times."

"Grace will wave and make eye-contact when saying ‘hello' to her teacher each morning."

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Teaching the Second Step of Communication: Boosting Communicating Through Physical Presence

Autism Asperger's Digest

Originally published by Autism Asperger's Digest Magazine
Column 7: Think Social
Jan-Feb 2009 issue
© 2009
Written by: Michelle Garcia Winner


Caleb is a 23-year-old "bright" young man with Asperger's Syndrome who is particularly gifted in math. He recently participated in a social thinking assessment at our clinic. Caleb recognized and acknowledged he has never been able to figure out how to be perceived as "friendly" when around others, but he sincerely desires to have friends to hang out with and learn what he can do to bring this about.

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The Second Step of Communication: Physical Presence

Autism Asperger's Digest

Originally published by Autism Asperger's Digest Magazine
Column 6: Think Social
Nov-Dec 2008 issue
Copyright©2008
Written by: Michelle Garcia Winner


In previous columns,
we have explored the overall meaning behind the 4 Steps of Communication and learned that communication is not one act, but a symphony of thoughts and related actions synchronized in time. We start by thinking about those around us and in what way we may desire to communicate (or not) with them. In this column we move to Step 2 of communication: establishing physical presence, and the role it plays in connecting emotionally with others during face-to-face interactions.

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The First Step of Communication: Teaching Thinking Strategies

Autism Asperger's Digest

Originally published by Autism Asperger's Digest Magazine
Column 3: Think Social
May-June 2008 issue
Copyright©2008
Written by: Michelle Garcia Winner


Last time we discussed the first of the 4 Steps of Communication: Thinking about the person with whom we communicate. In this column we explore concrete strategies related to this step. In future columns we'll tackle the remaining steps of communication: establishing and maintaining a physical presence, thinking with your eyes, and using language to relate to others.

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