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Saturday

Learning about Social Thinking

I was fortunate enough to attend a workshop by Michelle Garcia Winner and Carol Gray in Vancouver this summer...

Those ladies have  knack for teaching how to see from a new perspective they really do. They were energetic, intelligent and insightful-and funny as could be.

We started our two day workshop with registration of course, with everyone receiving a lovely printout of the power-point slides that the presenters were using in their talks. There were books available from the ACT bookstore (ACT is autism community training.  They organize the workshops, track all the service providers for my province (the ones that funding will cover) and provide a wealth of services, support and information for persons with autism and their communities.) I purchased some new books and an excellent game and now have a list of books on my wish list :)  I <3 books.="books." p="p">
ANYWAYS... everyone sits down in the ballroom, and opens their presentation booklets to the first set of slides. Picture for me, 600+ people, mostly parents of children on the spectrum, all with their booklet open to page 3, the first set of slides.  And up getsCarol Gray, who is the brain behind social stories. As she begins her talk she turns on her power point presentation and the screen lights up with slides that are not in the booklet.

Now... What do you think all 600+ people did?

We all flipped through the booklet, looking for those slides. Some people looked decidedly uncomfortable with this unexpected happening.  Why was she showing us slides that are not in the booklet? Is this the WRONG booklet?? Is Carol GRAY CRAZY???  What is happening!!

As this lovely lady stood there, smiling gently, she explained that social stories are to help us understand things that happen.  They help us know what to expect.  Then she drew our page flipping attention to the first slide... Which began with something like, "I am going to a workshop to hear presenters talk about social thinking. The presenters may hand out a booklet of power point slides..."

Her first ten minutes of presentation consisted of slides that were a social story about attending a workshop and how presenters may use slides that are not in the booklet, and they may skip slides that ARE in the booklet... and "that is O.K." It was a priceless moment.

Those ladies talked about everything from perspective taking, not looking through the filtered lens of your child's diagnosis all the time, how the social rules change as we age, how to evaluate a friendship, how to teach social skills, how to write social stores and so forth and so on...

More importantly, both presenters were very positive.  They both work (and have worked) with kids and adults all over the spectrum, and yet they are standing there, positive minded, sharing what they know and admitting that nothing is in stone.. That we need more research on these concepts and 'therapies', that these are educated guesses based on their training, their experience in their practices and their observations.

It was a fantastic trip, worth every penny. 

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