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Thinking About You Thinking About Me Philosophy and strategies to develop perspective taking and communication abilities for persons with social-cognitive deficits By Michelle Garcia Winner
Who would benefit from using this book? Without a doubt, all educators working with students on the autistic spectrum, special education, and general education teachers would benefit from Ms. Winner’s book. It is a “must read” for SLPs. Oral communication is the foundation for social relationships, and all individuals who associate with our students with ASD must be aware of strategies and techniques to assist our students acquire this skill. This book is easy to read and understand. An added benefit is that there are twentyseven pages of practical handouts, which are reproducible for educational use. There also several useful graphics, tables, and templates.
The “I LAUGH” model was developed to create a framework by which educators can organize and describe their observations and test results related to social cognition; it incorporates the difficulties presented through the discussions about central coherence theory, executive dysfunction, and Theory of Mind. The introduction provides a table and a summary of the “I LAUGH” model and corresponding treatment ideas. In brief, the “I LAUGH” paradigm is as follows: Deficits Include: I = Poor initiation of communication or action L = Listening with eyes and brain A = Abstract and inferential U = Understanding perspective G = Gestalt processing; getting the big picture H = Humor/Human relatedness
Chapter 1: Impaired Interactive Perspective Taking: Thinking Out Loud In this chapter, the author explains that perspective taking is an incredibly complex process that is the foundation of successful interpersonal relations. Ms. Winner comprehensively explains perspective taking deficits across the autism spectrum and all students with social cognitive deficits and the factors that contribute to successful communication. A helpful table is provided, which compares levels of mind reading deficits between students who are considered to be mindblind (lower-to-moderate functioning autistic) and students with impaired interactive perspective taking (PDD-NOS, Asperger Syndrome, Non-Verbal Learning Disability, and others). Chapter 2: Therapy Strategies Enhancing Interactive Perspective Taking Knowledge and Skills This chapter provides ideas of how to introduce and teach concepts that contribute to helping persons develop a stronger foundation for interactive perspective taking. Ms. Winner states that it has been her experience that the lessons are most beneficial to students who function above the level of mindblindness (lower-to moderate-functioning autistic).
Chapter 3: Physical Proximity, Thinking with Your Eyes and Interacting as Part of a Group The focus of this chapter is to help students develop an awareness in two primary areas – physical proximity and thinking with your eyes to gain a better understanding of skills needed to succeed in developing successful social interactions. Social interaction is usually equated to conversational success; however work must not be limited to simply staying on topic or taking turns, but other essential skills, which include body language and conveying social knowledge with your eyes. Chapter 4: Using Language to Develop and Sustain Relationships This chapter relates that conversations are the foundations of social relationships. Ms. Winner believes that to help students learn more about communicative interaction they must learn more about the cognitive processing through which the skills develop. Previous chapters defined the non-verbal knowledge that is imperative to communicative success. This chapter explores how language is added to this non-verbal base of understanding to create more successful interactions.
Chapter 5: Social Behavior Mapping: Teaching How Behavior is Linked to Perspective Taking Behavior problems can be defined as any behavior that interferes with the process of learning or doing. All individuals with social cognitive deficits have some form of a behavior problem. Behavioral treatment strategies are imperative when working with students with social cognitive deficits. A systematic approach to analyze the antecedents to the behavior, to define the behavior, then to develop alternative consequences for dealing with the behavior is essential to successfully modify behaviors. This chapter provides guidance, strategies, templates, and forms for social behavior mapping and structure for behavior intervention. Chapter 6: The Me Binder: Informing Students About Their Individual Education Plans This chapter stresses that it is important that we educate students directly about their own IEP services so that they can fully integrate what they are learning during their school day. This chapter explains how to create a “Me Binder” for students. Its concept was developed to break down the meaning of a student’s IEP into a concrete, visual product.
Chapter 7: Informal and Formal Assessment Procedures for Therapeutic Intervention This chapter is very helpful in suggesting techniques for informal and formal assessments. Assessments must be multidisciplinary with information provided by parents, general education teachers, special education teachers, speech-language pathologists, school psychologists, and occupational therapists. This chapter describes assessment procedures that the author has found beneficial in better understanding the complex nature of students with suspected social pragmatic language disorders, it is not a review of assessment procedures, but more to provide insight into the process. Informal and Formal Assessment Procedures for Therapeutic Intervention This chapter suggest the possible use of the following standardized tests: TOPS-A; TOPS-E; TOPL; CASL; The Listening Test; TLC; TOWL-3; TEWL-2; The Strong Narrative Assessment Procedure; Dynamic Assessment and Intervention: Improving Children’s Narrative Abilities. This chapter provides a template for the SLP’s written assessment reports as well as a sample report.