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Wednesday 23 Apr 2014

The Social Thinking – Social Communication Profile


Michelle Garcia Winner, the developer of Social Thinking, has worked together with Pamela Crooke and Stephanie Madrigal to develop The Social Thinking-Social Communication Profile (ST-SCP).

According to their website, social thinking is:

“…required prior to the development of social skills. Successful social thinkers consider the points of view, emotions, thoughts, beliefs, prior knowledge and intentions of others (this is often called perspective-taking – considering the perspectives of others). This is for most of us an intuitive process. We can determine the meanings behind the messages communicated by others and how to respond to them within milliseconds to three seconds! Social thinking occurs everywhere, when we talk, share space, walk down the street, even when we read a novel and relate to our pets. It is an intelligence that integrates information across home, work and community settings – something we usually take for granted!

In neurotypical (so-called normal-thinking) people, social thinking is hard-wired at birth and learned intuitively from infancy onward. While most of us develop our communication skills as we grow up, steadily observing and acquiring social information and learning how to respond to the people around us, many have great difficulties with this process. These difficulties with learning and applying social information is often considered a social learning disability.”

The ST-SCP was developed to assist in the treatment development for individuals with identified social skills problems. The profile includes six descriptive categories of social functioning which show strengths and issues which are not specific to the diagnostic label of autism. The six categories (and two sub-categories) are:

  • Severely Challenged Social Communicator (SCSC) –
  • “[These individuals are] inattentive and internally distracted: singularly focused on internal thoughts and sensory input; conversely limited or at times unaware of the social and situational demands imposed by the people in context.”

  • Challenged Social Communicator (CSC) –
  • “[Individuals in this category are] highly distracted in unstructured social situations but more capable in highly structured situations.”

  • Emerging Social Communicator (ESC) –
  • “[These individuals are] awkwardly engaged: issues may not be apparent without verbally relating to the person for a few minutes.”

  • Nuance Challenged Social Communicator (NCSC) – This category includes the following two categories which both seem to have social anxiety underlying their difficulties.
    • Weak Interactive Social Communicator (WISC) –
    • “[These individuals] may appear typical at first glance to adults and perhaps peers. The sustained impression held by peers is that of subtly awkward and odd person.”

    • Socially Anxious Social Communicator (SASC) –
    • “[These individuals] function ‘under the radar’ and often try to appear to others as ‘fine’ but avoid many social situations outside of their family.”

  • Neurotypical Social Communicator (NSC) –
  • “…the individuals in this group are ‘on-track’ in the acquisitions of milestones of social development.”

  • Resistant Social Communicator (RSC) –
  • “[These are the] insisters and arguers. May say they are not interested in others but are class clowns or seek out people to complain to about how no one understands them. In short, they are attention seekers by getting people to attend to their inappropriate actions but then acting like they didn’t want the attention.”

Within each category, the authors use a variety of descriptors to detail different aspects of social functioning. These descriptors include:

  • Understanding one’s own and others’ minds
  • Emotional coping
  • Social problem solving
  • Peer interactions, including play
  • Self-awareness
  • Academic skills
  • Bullying, tricks and mental manipulation

For each of the categories, the authors use these descriptors to describe the general characteristics of individuals which fall into the category, their strengths, treatment options and prognosis. This tool has the potential to be very helpful to parents and professional when developing treatment plans for individuals with autism and other diagnoses. In addition to this tool, here are some additional suggestions offered by Michelle Garcia Winner for selecting books and strategies.