Social Thinking® Groups

for Children through Young Adults

Social Thinking Groups® are run through PSLLC but are held in the Social Village space.

To enroll in Social Village or to receive more information please contact or call 609-924-7080.

For most of us, interacting with other people comes naturally. However, individuals with conditions such as High Functioning Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Verbal or Nonverbal Learning Disabilities, ADHD, Social Anxiety or those with no specific diagnosis but struggle with social interactions, often lack this innate ability to think through and succeed in everyday social situations. For them, social thinking must be learned and practiced.

PSLLC’s cutting-edge Social Thinking® groups bring together individuals of similar ages and abilities for weekly therapy sessions. They learn ways to more easily “fit in” and establish and maintain friendships.

Emotional Intelligence Training

Based on the work of world-renowned expert Michelle Garcia Winner, we teach social emotional skills ranging from perspective taking, which is understanding that others have “thoughts” separate from our own, to interpreting and responding to the nuances of verbal and non-verbal communication. We employ social emotional learning activities that help your child make friends easier. By developing emotional intelligence, kids with high functioning autism, asperher’s syndrome and kids with ADHD are better equipped to learn the social skills that come easily to others their own age. Learn more about Social Thinking® at Michelle Garcia Winner's website.

Social Emotional Learning Challenges

  • Has trouble making friends, keeps to him/herself
  • Socially anxious
  • Socially awkward
  • Can not see the “big picture”
  • Has trouble figuring out others’ intentions
  • Can not “read” body language, facial expressions, context, etc.
  • Is struggling with reading comprehension
  • Has trouble managing his/her time
  • Poor planning and organizing skills
  • Has trouble taking notes in class
  • Is having difficulty working in a group
  • Does not understand “figurative language”
  • Difficulty initiating conversations and social interactions
  • Does not show empathy
  • Has trouble holding a job
  • Is being repeatedly bullied
  • Is refusing to participate in school activities

Who can benefit from participating in the social thinking groups?

Groups are geared for individuals with average to above average IQ who have social cognitive deficits as a result of High Functioning Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, ADHD, Social Anxiety, Non-verbal Learning Disorder (NLD), PDD-NOS, or those with no specific diagnosis. We work with students starting in kindergarten and, as students progress in school, they gradually move on to more complex social thinking topics depending on their maturity and interest level.

How the groups work

New groups are formed at the beginning of the school year for the regular (September to June) session and in June for the 8-week summer session. Each group includes two to four students and meets for an hour, once a week, under the supervision of a nationally certified speech-language pathologist. Each treatment session includes:

  • Gathering – Three to five minutes of open talk time.
  • Group Lesson – Social cognitive strategies and social thinking lessons.
  • Practice/Unstructured Time – This could include an “open topic” discussion among group members. During this time, the therapist provides feedback to reinforce the lesson.
  • Parent Wrap Up – Parents gather while the therapist reviews the group’s lesson. If parents are unable to attend, we arrange for them to receive feedback either via email, phone calls or face-to-face conferences.

Methods Used

  • Role Play or Guided Practice
  • Activities and Games
  • Video and Visual Support
  • Social Stories Scripts
  • Homework and Parent Tips
  • Positive Reinforcement
  • Executive Function
  • Stree Management

Promoting desirable behaviors

While the program explores a wide range of topics, some central lessons include:

  • Non-verbal communication
  • Initiating conversations/Small talk
  • Problem solving and negotiating
  • How their behavior impacts others
  • Emotional regulation and self control
  • Group dynamics/How to “fit in”
  • Understanding abstract language
  • Thinking flexibly
  • Perspective-taking
  • Understanding hidden social rules

Lessons by Age Group

  • Lower Elementary:

    • Focus is on social interaction and non-verbal play
    • Observing others
    • Imitating others
    • Making “smart guesses” about others’ intentions
    • What is “expected” and “unexpected” for social behaviors
  • Upper Elementary:

    • Interacting with and relating to others
    • Organizational skills
    • Visual organizational systems to help conceptualize both social interactions and academic work
    • Time management
    • Making “smart guesses” about others’ intentions
    • What is “expected” and “unexpected” for social behaviors across contexts
  • Middle School:

    • Self-esteem
    • Organization
    • “Reading” body language and non-verbal cues
    • Expected behaviors for middle school
    • Inferring “hidden rules” of social behavior
  • High School:

    • All of the aforementioned skills
    • Social networking
    • Self-advocacy
    • Acquaintances versus good friends
    • Holding thoughts and not interrupting others
    • “Social Fakes”, or feigning interest and asking questions
    • Reading between the lines of what people say
    • Understanding and responding to new social situations

Expected vs. Unexpected

Individulas are taught that verbal and nonverbal actions have consequences in terms of how other people think about us. “Expected” actions can generate good thoughts, and “unexpected” actions can generate weird thoughts.

What to Keep In and What to Let Out

Individulas are taught that certain types of knowledge/ opinions should stay in one’s head and certain types of knowledge/opinions can be shared with others.

We have found that these methods of teaching social thinking increase the occurrence of desirable social behaviors outside the therapy room. Over time, they learn how their social behaviors can influence others’ thoughts and actions.

Why Social Thinking® Intervention differs from traditional Social Skills groups

Social Thinking group therapy addresses the thought processes behind social interactions, which helps children and adults carryover and apply social skills to new contexts and environments.

SocialThinking® in the News

Parents: Is Your Treatment Team Teaching Social Thinking Well? Questions to Ask Professionals in Private Practice

By Michelle Garcia Winner

In the early 1990s I coined the term “Social Thinking®” and began creating a teaching/ treatment methodology that is today being used in schools, clinics, and homes across North America and around the world. Teachers are infusing the Social Thinking Vocabulary into daily class work, Pre-K teachers are introducing early learners to the Social Thinking Vocabulary, entire schools have adopted the Superflex™ curriculum to build strong social awareness and “social smarts” in all their students, and clinics and treatment programs are basing services and programs for all ages on Social Thinking curricula, materials, and teaching frameworks. Why? Because Social Thinking works!

Just like any good program, Social Thinking is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach. It’s designed to be flexible (flexible thinking is the heart of what we teach) and we encourage parents and professionals to adapt our materials to fit the needs of the students or individuals with whom they work. The flip side of this encouraged “shared creative thought” approach is that the methodology can, and is, being used incorrectly, not as it was originally taught. The most frequent mistake we see: people teaching Social Thinking concepts too quickly and expecting students to simply change their behavior based on the terminology we have created.

Social Thinking teachings take parents, professionals and students on a journey from learning about their own and others’ social thinking to then learning to self-regulate their own behavior to meet their personal social goals (e.g. to be included, accepted, etc.).

Read more: Click here

Social Thinking: What You Need to Know

By Kate Kelly

At a Glance:

  • The Social Thinking teaching framework is designed to help kids who struggle with social skills.
  • Social Thinking teaches kids how to figure out what other people may be thinking and feeling.
  • Building these skills can lead to better social interactions.

Read more:

Teaching Social Skills to Improve Grades and Lives

The New York Times
July 24, 2015

Studies confirm the wisdom of teaching social skills first: Children who feel well-liked settle down to learn better in class, and go on to do better in life.

Read more:

How To Enroll

We require an application and pre-group interview for all new clients to determine whether they can benefit from our services.  We ask parents/caregivers to provide recent copies of all medical and diagnostic reports that are relevant to the student’s academic behavioral and language abilities, as well as an IEP or 504 plan, if available.  To begin the application process, please click on the link to fill out the appropriate forms.

You can fax the forms to (609) 924-6563, or mail them to:

Princeton Speech-Language & Learning Center
19 Wall Street
Princeton, NJ  08540

Our director will contact you once your forms have been received and reviewed. If space is available, we will set up a pre-group consultation.  If there is no space available, your child will be put on a waiting list until there is an appropriate fit for your child.  If we determine that your child can benefit from our services, we will place your child in an age-appropriate group with children who have similar abilities and needs.   


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