SLP Toolkit Podcast, Episode 18, Transcript


Lisa Kathman: (00:10)

Hi Sarah!


Sarah Bevier: (00:39)

Well, hi Lisa!


Lisa Kathman: (00:40)

How are you today?


Sarah Bevier: (00:42)

I'm good thanks. This is always a little bit more awkward because we have a guest today, and so she's watching us talk to each other.


Lisa Kathman: (00:50)

So tell us about our guest.


Sarah Bevier: (00:51)

Oh my gosh. I'm so excited about this one. We kind of gave a teaser in our last podcast episode about our guest for this one, because we actually hesitated for a minute. Like, can we even ask Social Thinking for somebody? And we thought, why not? What's the worst thing that happens? Let's just put it out there and we'll ask. And they actually responded and said yes, that they would love to do the podcast. So we have Ryan who is one of the presenters from Social Thinking and I will let her introduce herself.


Ryan Hendrix: (01:18)

Hi, good morning.


Lisa Kathman: (01:20)

Good morning.


Ryan Hendrix: (01:21)

All right. Well, I am Ryan Hendrix. I'm a speech and language pathologist, and I am a member of the Social Thinking, Speaking and Training Collaborative. So when Michelle and Pam are busy and aren't able to do things like this, they were kind enough to pass this off. And so I got the opportunity to meet with and chat with you all this morning.


Lisa Kathman: (01:44)

How do you get a gig like that? That's like a dream job.


Ryan Hendrix: (01:46)

I know, right? I think that all the time and pinch myself every so often. Absolutely. Well, I was introduced to social thinking as a graduate student at the University of Arizona. So Dr. Pamela Crooke was my clinical supervisor and mentor. And for that clinical rotation we were running social skills groups for students with high functioning Autism and Asperger's. And we were using as our guide the "Thinking About You Thinking About Me" first edition by one Michelle Garcia Winner. So that was my introduction to social thinking and it was very different from my other clinical experiences. I think we've chatted a little bit before, but the idea of this being really complicated and tricky, and I remember kind of preparing for my first group and having a lesson plan of the concept I'm going to teach, and I'm going to introduce it in this way, and then we'll do this for about five minutes and then this for 10 minutes. And then I think for anybody who has done anything social-related in terms of trying to teach, the plan went totally out the window. Several minutes into the session, my students were asking things like, "well, why would I do that?" or "who are you?" or "that's stupid," or "you're stupid" or "what's your IQ? Cause this is mine." And I didn't have a number and I didn't have an answer. And 45 minutes later walked out with, I think my hair puffed up and my glasses falling off my face, like what just happened? So it was not easy, but it was fun and it was engaging and challenging. So that was kind of my introduction and absolutely could have been a 'I will wait for the end of this clinical placement and move on to something that is a little bit more straight forward.' But I felt really passionate about it and jumped in with both feet and just had the opportunity to keep going. Pam joined the social thinking team, and then there was an opportunity, an open desk. So in 2008 I had the opportunity to join the social thinking team. And I've been at my same desk ever since


Lisa Kathman: (04:02)

I hate to cut this interview short, but we are both ASU Sun Devils so I'm afraid we cannot continue this interview any longer.


Sarah Bevier: (04:13)

I like how that's what you got hyper-focused on just now.


Lisa Kathman: (04:16)

That was all well and good. I didn't know that Dr. Crooke was a professor at University of Arizona. That's really cool.


Ryan Hendrix: (04:22)

It was. Yeah, yeah for a time.


Lisa Kathman: (04:25)

Close to home. Because we are based out of the Phoenix, Arizona area. So we both went to grad school at Arizona State. That is awesome.


Sarah Bevier: (04:33)

That is amazing. And since 2008. Lisa and I were actually talking about when we were getting ready for this interview is when was your first experience with social thinking? And I was telling her, I remember it being introduced to me and thinking I was the last person on earth who had ever heard of it. Everybody seemed to know what this was. And we talked about that, like what makes something so popular and have such a huge reach? And so then we were even saying, well, when did it first come out? Because I think I had heard about it, I feel like around 2009, probably for the first time.


Ryan Hendrix: (05:07)

Yeah. Well, I think Social Thinking was created by Michelle Garcia Winner over 20 years ago and she was an SLP working in the schools. And like anybody, had students on her caseload where she was really trying to connect the dots and figure out why were they having a hard time connecting with each other, responding the way they were, but also having these challenges in the academic curriculum as well. The reading comprehension, the writing, and just really connecting all those dots. And I think it very much began as a grassroots, you know, here's what she was doing, working with her students and people were hearing about it and wanted her to get out there and start talking about it. And she will say she never imagined that it would be what it is today then. Right? Because it was really just about sharing what seemed to be really helping her students. And how it just kind of spread. A lot of word of mouth, I think, and people like, oh, this makes sense. Or I can use this to kind of untangle this really complex world of social and figure out how to teach it


Lisa Kathman: (06:08)

Well. And what I love is on the website, if anybody does want to look at some of the research that supports the social thinking curriculum, there is a tab on the website that has articles that support-- some of that peer research that supports the curriculum. And even, I think personally, I came to Social Thinking I don't even think for the therapy piece. At first for me it was more the assessment piece. I was struggling with I had kids on my caseload that I thought were quote unquote "weird." And I didn't know how to assess that and write that in an evaluation in an objective way, in a concrete way. What kind of goals do you write? So I think, even speaking from our confession kind of base, my favorite thing in IEP meetings, my confession, was I would say well, we're going to work on this indirectly. There are some needs here in social but I didn't know how to write "your kid's weird." And I didn't know how to write goals for that. And so I would just say, we're going to work on that indirectly and we would address it. And I had some therapy supports for that, but then that was what opened the door. I love even finding-- I had read articles about all of the descriptive assessments because the kids I was testing, there was no standardized test that gave you any good information or you had those kids that did well on something like the test of problem solving. They knew the answers in that kind of concrete context, but completely fell apart (unintelligible.) That was my confession. Really, really bad.


Sarah Bevier: (07:48)

Right. They're so fun to work with. And I agree with you. I think the treatment can be really fun. And I think they're very interesting. Especially I think maybe working in the schools than anywhere else is this documentation that we had to do. So we have to write this very concrete goal that we're going to take progress on and write in a progress report. And how do you put something that's so abstract and complex in a concrete way that's an observable skill that I can measure? That was a struggle.


Ryan Hendrix: (08:18)

Yeah. And I think that that is what really resonated with me as far as the social thinking methodology. Was just the idea of taking these very abstract, very dynamic, synergistic things, the things that you notice, right? The things stand out to you and you're like, "oh, that makes me uncomfortable." Or "a student is doing X, Y, Z, and that's kind of standing out from their peers." But how do you describe that? If you can't kind of put your finger on what it is if you don't have some language around it, then how do you support them? How do you write goals around it? How do you communicate with the team and then how do you work on it? So I was really drawn to the methodology because of the language, because of the vocabulary that Michelle had developed to talk about the abstract in a way that was concrete. Because if we can talk about it, now we can teach it. Now we can treat it.


Sarah Bevier: (09:05)

Monitor progress.


Ryan Hendrix: (09:08)

Right. Absolutely.


Sarah Bevier: (09:10)

Now, did you work in the schools? Have you worked in the schools or do you mostly do private?


Ryan Hendrix: (09:14)

Private practice. In my role I get to wear many hats. One of them, I am a clinician at the Social Thinking Stevens Creek in San Jose. And that's the same desk I've been at for all these many years. And it's a private clinical practice and we see people across the lifespan. So the age range is four-- I think one of the older clients is 74.


Sarah Bevier: (09:38)



Ryan Hendrix: (09:39)

Yeah. My caseload--I have my youngest is four and my oldest is 18 and getting ready to graduate from high school. So I get to work across the lifespan. But then I also get to wear a different hat and get to go out and do speaking and training and consulting with schools. So I get to work with school teams even though I don't work directly in the school running groups and working with students there.


Lisa Kathman: (10:03)

So working in a school setting, I think one of the things that often pops up is within that treatment kind of context, we don't get the benefit often of working one-on-one. If it's really what a student truly needs, we can. You know, everything has to be individualized, but is that necessary? A. And if not in a group setting, should we be matching our students with social language needs with other students with social language needs? Should we be matching them with typical peers? Have you found that there's--


Ryan Hendrix: (10:36)

That's a great question. And one that comes up pretty frequently because I think a lot of people have the idea that, oh, well, if they work with their peer without social learning challenges, then that peer will be modeling what we would think of as the expected social behaviors, and they would be able to learn that. But I think what we've found is that for our students with social learning differences, if they could learn it just by being with their typical peers, then we wouldn't see the challenges that we're seeing. So while I think that the vocabulary and the concepts are great for all students-- and in fact, it's been really exciting in the last couple of years to really bring social thinking kind of school-wide classroom wide, district-wide. So everybody has this shared vocabulary around social. What we've found though is for students whose brains don't make this easy for them, we have to break it down even further. We have to slow it down even more. When possible and of course, in an ideal world, then we can group together students with similar social learning differences so you can really break it down and teach it at the level that they need, right? So that it makes sense. Or we can take it from their perspective and break it down in that concrete way.


Sarah Bevier: (11:51)

And can you do this one day a week for thirty minutes in a group of four? Obviously we know in the schools that we are supposed to provide support that the student needs, regardless of what our schedules look like. But the reality is we have huge case loads and you tend to have these 30 minutes sessions, you might get lucky if you've got enough time to see a kid twice a week for 30. And again, we need to do what's best for kids. And so I'm asking that kind of in a flippant way, because ideally how much support is this requiring? Should we be expected to be supporting with these students?


Ryan Hendrix: (12:26)

Yeah. We think a lot about kind of how the social mind is not just what we use in conversation or on the playground or at lunch. But that social mind is what goes into the classroom as well. Right? It's what helps you figure out what the teacher's instructions are or pull meaning from what you're reading or to write an effective paper. So that social mind goes across the school day. And yet we have like 30 minutes once a week to really kind of dive in and tackle that. Now that being said, I think that's why whenever possible, you know, and just even as a private clinician, I try to communicate with families and with the school team whenever possible. So we're sharing that language. So perhaps you're working with the students, you're introducing a concept, but if that same concept can go back to the classroom with them, if they can hear that same language kind of across the course of the school day, then that's triggering that thinking more than just that half hour a week. I think definitely as I got started, social thinking for a lot of my students was something that we just talked about one hour, one time a week. And that's just a drop in the bucket, right? So trying to find ways to continue that conversation. I think that's everybody's challenge and what we work to do.


Lisa Kathman: (13:43)

So can it be as simple as sending an email to the teacher, hey, this is what we're working on?


Ryan Hendrix: (13:49)

Yeah. I think there are a lot of different options. So yes, sending an email to the teacher, like hey, here's the concept we're talking about. Here's what we're working on. Here's what we broke down today. I think in some settings the SLP might go in and do a classroom wide kind of lesson. So your kids whose brains make this easy for them, they're going to pick it up right away. Then you've got a shared language. And then you're also not singling out the couple of students who are in the classroom that are really struggling with it. I think what that does too, is that it makes it a conversation and it makes it okay that we're talking about the thing that is challenging because everybody notices, right? They notice when the kid who's in class with them is doing something that is unexpected and disrupting the learning for everybody, but then it turns it into a conversation. So I think that kind of as a community, we can have a little bit more empathy and a way to talk about what we're observing, because we notice it, but how do we talk about it?


Lisa Kathman: (14:47)

Well, here's the thing the teachers notice too. These are the kids that are on the teacher's radar that they're like, "I need you to support this student because they're driving me crazy."


Ryan Hendrix: (14:57)

Right. And we've found that when we can go in and offer concepts and strategies that support that student, then that makes the entire learning experience better for everybody. Better for the other students, better for the teacher as well.


Lisa Kathman: (15:13)

Yeah. And I think that's huge because that's where it does come from is that idea of frustration of, I don't know how to support. So give me some things I can do to support this student to make them successful in my classroom and then help the other students too. If I see those kinds of interactions then how do I help the other students work with this child as well within that framework?


Sarah Bevier: (15:34)

And then I think it's our understanding of our role too. You know, it's a little tricky in the school sometimes for eligibility purposes because oftentimes these kids are gonna do really well on something like the CELF. And so we get a lot of questions about that as far as diagnostics when it comes to eligibility requirements. And so can we talk a little bit about what is the impact that this is having on their ability to access curriculum? Which is kind of that deciding factor of what it is that qualifies a student for support in the schools?


Ryan Hendrix: (16:05)

Sure. Well, I mean, it goes back to that idea of the social mind not just being for these kinds of face-to-face interactions, conversations. But if we think about really thinking about the thinking you have to do when the teacher gives instructions to the classroom. So I can think of this great example of a student who had a four-part, essay writing assignment. And the student went up to the teacher and said, "do I need to write a rough draft?" And the teacher said, "all good writers, write a rough draft." Well, my student did not write a rough draft because that would have required interpretation, right? And that uses your social mind and my student is a literal thinker, so there was no rough draft. And so he was missing a quarter of his grade. And he had advocated, he'd gone up to the teacher, but so much of what happens in the classroom and so much of how we communicate is indirect. So that's kind of one piece is being able to understand the directions. But if you also think about just even being able to read and understand a text where you have to take the perspective of the characters, where you have to follow the thread of the story, where you have to pick up the important little details and kind of put them together, all of that is your social mind as well. Or writing a paper again, who are you writing it for? How do you choose your language? How do you organize it so it makes sense to somebody else's brain? How do you boil it down to the important information, all of those pieces. Again, it's the same thinking you have to use kind of across the school day. So we've talked a lot recently as an organization about going back to our educational standards. Going to if your state is using common core, you can use that as your fuel to talk about how this impacts the student academically. So the speaking and listening standards, for sure. Anything that has point of view in it is your doorway into being able to talk about teaching perspective taking,


Sarah Bevier: (18:07)

I love that. I loved when the common core was rolled out in Arizona because of that speaking and listening. It really made an argument for everything we do,


Ryan Hendrix: (18:17)

Right? Yeah, absolutely.


Lisa Kathman: (18:19)

And then I even think as students get older into high school, and then you're dealing with six different teachers with six different point of views, with six different sense of expectations of how assignments are turned in or are supposed to be completed, and it gets even that much trickier for them and putting that all into that kind of context is really difficult.


Ryan Hendrix: (18:39)

Right. And I think for those students who don't show up on paper necessarily who sit down to do some of the classic standardized measures and do really well, but that's the same student who's not connecting with a single peer on their campus, is not getting their work turned in. There are all these other challenges. And I think one of the things we've talked about as an organization too, is that what many times gets called a "mild" social problem is a really significant problem in reality. And that's where-- you talked about at the beginning what brought you to social thinking was the assessment piece. Bringing in the dynamic informal assessment that does look at social in a real-time interaction I think is a really important piece to add to kind of the overall picture when we're assessing a student. So here's what these tests look like. However, it's not timed, it's not their social, it's not their problem they're solving, right? So that gives us one picture, but then let's look at all this other information. Let's look at how they did in being able to do this problem solving, let's look at what their executive function is like. Let's look at their interactions with their peers. So it's kind of zooming out a little bit and getting information from lots of different places to make that case for why we want to support that student. And for the kids who aren't going to get that support who aren't going to necessarily qualify, if we can't figure out how to make that happen I think that's where there's the tremendous benefit in making this a shared language and kind of a community-wide conversation. Because then for the kids who aren't qualifying, if you're talking with the entire classroom about expected and unexpected behaviors, if you're talking with the entire classroom about hidden rules or what it means to "keep your brain in the group," then you're catching those students too.


Lisa Kathman: (20:32)

Well, and I think it's really interesting from an assessment piece that I think most SLPs are super comfortable with the idea of using a combination of the standardized and descriptive assessment when you're doing something like a language evaluation. You do a language sample and you do a classroom observation, and that's just part of your comprehensive assessment. But when it comes to this social language piece, it's not. Everybody wants this kind of concrete test to give. And so it typically ends up-- I think what I see a lot on the message boards is either doing something like the TOPS or doing something like the CELF pragmatics profile, which that's great, that's good information to give as part of the puzzle piece in one set of data. But I love-- there are a couple of articles that we can link to this in the actual podcast, but that are on the social thinking website that talk about, well, what are some other informal assessments I can use? Interview and even doing like a picture sequencing task and what that means. And really what I love about those is how it's broken down in those articles, not only what to do and how to do, but what does that mean if they can't do it? And so that ties back into taking these kind of abstract concepts, breaking it down into concrete steps and gives me information that I can actually put into a report that makes sense for me in guiding treatment. But then I remember the first time I ever did that, I had a psychologist that said, I've never seen a report for social language that is this comprehensive for a student. Because I think it makes more sense to the team too, that this is the student. Now I can really see how this connects in to the other information that we've been hearing about the student.


Ryan Hendrix: (22:17)

Yeah. And I think too, it helps everybody. So one of the concepts that we've been talking a lot about the last couple of years is the social competency model. So I don't know if you can link to that as well, 'cause there are tons of free articles and webinars and things like that on the social thinking website. But the idea of thinking about an iceberg of sorts and what we see in an iceberg, what's above the surface is just the skill. And that can be their ability to interact with others. That can be what they write, whatever that social output is. But what's beneath the surface is all of the input, the information they're noticing around them, right? How they interpret it, how they make sense of it, how they problem solve with it. So everything that's beneath the surface. And I think that's what you were talking about with when we're writing a really comprehensive report, how it helps everybody look beneath the surface. Not just here's the output, but everything that's going on beneath the surface so we can figure out, oh, here's how this is connected. Or this is why they're responding in this way. Or this is why this behavior is happening, because they missed this information or they misinterpreted the information or whatever it might be. And working beneath the surface to support that student.


Lisa Kathman: (23:34)

Well, I think you see a lot of things that you would never pick up on in other contexts. So I even think of some of the double interviews I've done where I have pictures of myself and my family. And I've had students that identify my daughter, who I think in the picture, she was probably about 10 as me. So long dark hair and clearly not me. And so that kind of stuff pops up where you're like, oh, that's interesting. The difficulty with facial recognition or even that concept of clearly that's not me. Or we have done the eye-gaze test and then being able to see if they can identify what I am looking at, but then what do you think I'm thinking about? And I remember one student, I was looking at my purse and I said, well, what do you think I'm thinking about? And he said, you're thinking about that boat you always wanted to buy. And I was like ok, that's really interesting. You get these answers where you're like this is what's going on in this kid's brain all day long. The kid's perspective taking, why would I be-- he knows nothing about me. Why would I be thinking about a boat I want to buy? No other context of conversation, but it kind of gives you that information of this is why. He has no idea how to maneuver through any kind of social setting, because this is how his brain is wired. We've got to work on this perspective taking.


Ryan Hendrix: (24:55)

Among other things. That's absolutely right. It's all those little-- and I think that we get so much rich information from those little tasks, like the eye gaze task that you were just talking about takes probably two minutes to do. Right? And we get so much good information about whether they're able to understand that it's some of these eyes that are giving information about what they might be looking at and then what they might be thinking about. Because I think very classically for students with social learning challenges, I always see written down because when people apply and would like to participate in the clinic, we always get reports and information. And I see written in so many places, lack of eye contact. Right? But what does that mean? And then how do you teach that? And it's not look at me or make eye contact, but why do we do that? And I think, again, that's what drew me to the methodology is teaching the why behind it. That it's not just the skill, but the thinking and those things together. And how a two minute little task can give me that information or the double interview that you mentioned that really helps us notice how a student's able to take perspective. Even the way that they respond to what somebody else is saying or the way they formulate their responses. All of that is such rich information. If we can gather it and then figure out what it means for that student.


Lisa Kathman: (26:17)

Or can they even generate questions about this? You know, the level of difficulty that some students have with that task, that sometimes you even have to give them question stems to even get there. So what students are best suited for the social thinking curriculum?


Ryan Hendrix: (26:33)

Yeah. That is such a great question. Because we know there are lots of students out there that could use support in terms of their social development. But social thinking as a methodology is for students with average to above average language and learning abilities. Because it's language-based, we're talking about thinking and thoughts. So we're using our language to talk about these abstract concepts. Now that being said, people can apply the thinking to a variety of different students with different challenges, but at its core, this is who it was developed for. Another way that we think about that is for students who are using language to learn, as opposed to students who are still learning language.


Sarah Bevier: (27:21)

Yeah. It's a great point. Because even though it is much more concrete than any other explanation of what these skills are referring to, there is still a lot of conversation and language that's happening in these discussions. And I think-- and I was going to say this at the beginning-- I think what a lot of school-based SLPs need or want, I should say more than anything, is somebody to spell something out for them really clearly. We have to be a Jack of all trades and we have to know something everything. And so oftentimes we want a curriculum. We want something that's this tangible, spelled out scope and sequence. So I think that was one of the things that drew me to social thinking early on is I've got these lessons, these ways I can teach these really difficult concepts that were spelled out so clearly that I understand that. That are meaningful, and there's activities and there is kind of a scope and sequence right? Of how we should be teaching these skills. Now I know we need to obviously apply everything specific to a student's needs, but I think that was like the one thing, is finally somebody gave me the tools that I needed to be able to explain these things. But there is a lot of instruction so the students need to be capable of understanding the language.


Ryan Hendrix: (28:41)

And I think that there's a difference. So social thinking is a methodology, right? It's based in the research, it's developmentally based. And everything comes from that. So there are a number of different curriculums that are out there, but that's really kind of the vehicle for the concepts and for the strategies. So I mean, it does depend on the student, but there is not necessarily a super clear cut start here, then do this, then do this. It's very dynamic in that way, and we're constantly learning more about our students and figuring out. Anytime I teach a lesson or I go in with a concept, I always uncover 10 other things I need to like, oh right, I need to teach that and that and that. So I think sometimes that can feel like we're all over the place a little bit. But I think it goes back to all right, what are the student's core challenges? And that core challenge is going to manifest in many different ways. So instead of trying to put band-aids on all the little issues that are popping up, it's trying to back up and where are all these challenges coming from? So if it's perspective taking, then that's where we really want to teach. Because if you have challenges with perspective taking, that's going to pop up in lots of different places. Like thinking that you're thinking about your boat that you want to buy or whatever, that might be.


Lisa Kathman: (30:02)

He planted a seed, I'm not going to lie.


Ryan Hendrix: (30:04)

You're like wow, a boat would be great. I think though, as far as--you know, I think as I mentioned, there are several curriculums that are there that do as part of this bigger picture do have a "lesson one: introduce this," right? What's going to give them a good foundation and then you kind of add to it from there.


Sarah Bevier: (30:25)

And that's what it is. I think more-- and curriculum is probably not a great word for that, because like you said, it is so dynamic. I think it was just so often, we would have something like the classic goal would be "to maintain a topic."


Multiple speakers: (30:37)



Sarah Bevier: (30:44)

The classic goal that every student with social needs has on their IEP.


Lisa Kathman: (30:48)

maintain eye contact.


Sarah Bevier: (30:48)

Yeah, exactly. I think that's-- oh! we just had a little visitor for all of you who are obviously just listening and not watching, a little dog just popped up


Ryan Hendrix: (31:00)

And he'll be back.


Sarah Bevier: (31:02)

And he'll be back. So I think that's what it was. It made me think more about bigger picture goals and things that were realistic. I am not going to write a goal for eye contact. I am probably going to write a goal that has more to do with being a social detective and about thinking about others and about being more observant and you know, why I need to be looking at somebody when I'm talking to them.


Ryan Hendrix: (31:25)

Right, right. Right. Well, and conversation is where it all comes together where I'm thinking about, what do I know? What do I know about me? What do I know about you? Now we know we've got a U of A, ASU thing going on here. I should've made that smart guess (unintelligible) on the call. No, but we've got all that kind of knowledge and information about each other. And even as we're having the conversation I'm monitoring to see, does that make sense? Do I need to give more information? Do I need to give less information? And to kind of interpret what you're saying. So, conversation is so complicated. It's where it all comes together, but that's what we notice, right? We notice somebody-- that's where the challenges are popping up. So I see those conversation goals all the time when reports come in and I think I'm sure I've written those goals too, right? Before I knew how to dive in any deeper.


Lisa Kathman: (32:22)

Well, and I think the thing is it doesn't mean necessarily-- you know, I've been guilty in the past of writing those kind of goals for these more dynamic concepts of something I knew I could measure. That doesn't mean that that is exactly how I'm teaching it or working on it in therapy. But that was how I could measure it for purposes of completing a progress report (unintelligible).


Sarah Bevier: (32:43)

Can they maintain a conversation for three conversational turns, yes or no?


Lisa Kathman: (32:45)

Yeah I can measure that. And I think it's one of those things you know better, you do better. You learn things along the way that shape future decisions. But I have definitely been in that space before and I actually remember mentoring grad students in the past and even talking about more just language-based goals saying, if you can't measure it, don't write that goal. You have to figure out how to measure it, and we're going to blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But I was like, oh my gosh, I think of some of the things that have come out of my mouth in the past and probably will come out of my mouth in the future, I'm not going to lie.


Sarah Bevier: (33:18)

Let's talk about goals for a minute though. Because it is, it's really complicated. I think we do a good job of seeing a need and determining. I think we're really great at going "yep, that's not typical. It's impacting him in these ways. We need to target it." But writing the goals can be really challenging for us because it does need to be objective.


Ryan Hendrix: (33:37)

Right, agreed. You know, I think one of the things that-- kind of a couple of ideas is in the last many years, we've really moved to using rubrics as opposed to percentages. And I think-- I was talking with an educator and teachers use rubrics, for forever. But this is I think maybe a newer thing that we're doing at least in our office. And then when we're talking about this with different groups, talking about using rubrics, but then also thinking about things like a lot of times traditionally goals are looking at a behavior, right? Or a response. So writing goals that also are able to look at a student's understanding of a concept and not just their production. So a goal can be written in a couple of different ways. Like, a student's able to explain a concept, or given a situation can identify whatever it is, the thinking and the doing. And we're always going to have the ability to understand a concept, to think about it, to discuss it before we're able to produce that behavior. When you think about anybody with any sort of behavior change, right? That that's a really slow and deep process. And first we have to understand it. And I think that, that opens us up a little bit. If my goal is written that a student will understand a concept, then that kind of takes the pressure off of them being able to do it. Instead we can talk about and break down the layers of well, when do I do it? Why would I do it? It depends on-- and I think one of the things I really love about social thinking that makes it-- but also makes it complicated is there's so much, "what if?" It's not a black and white. A topic and who it would be-- like whether or not to bring it up depends on where you are, who's there, what's happening. So if we can instead talk about how do you figure those things out? How do you consider and be a social detective, as you were talking about, and think about the context? If we can write goals around that, then we can write thinking goals, if you will.


Sarah Bevier: (35:46)

Yeah. I love that you said that because we had Nina Reeves-- presented for us during the conference we just held and she talked a lot about fluency, stuttering goals. And often times people were writing goals that said something about "the student will be fluent 93% of the time," you know, those kinds of goals like that, which is not the best way to be treating stuttering. And it really goes back to all of these other things like the environment--and I can't think off the top of my head-- reactions, things like that. And so a lot of the goal examples she gave were about have the student explain something about their reactions or have them understand the concept of whatever it was that they were teaching and working on in therapy. And I know I never wrote goals like that.


Lisa Kathman: (36:31)

Well, and I think too, we have within our software, we have a lot of rubrics built-in for social thin-- or not for social thinking, for social skills and goals. And I think that was what made sense for us too, is that it is such a dynamic area that involves not even just the skill breakdown itself and task analyzing what's going on there, but what kind of cueing is going on to support the student for success? What setting are they successfully using that kind of skill? So that was sort of the framework that we looked at when we were developing our rubrics was that it is-- it's so many moving parts that go in to these types of goals. It's not just a grammar, you know, "can the student use past tense, ed?" It's not a black and white concrete skill like that.


Sarah Bevier: (37:18)

Yeah. The rubrics give us a lot more information. And when we came up with the rubrics and other progress monitoring tools, it was coming from the place of being like a teacher. So I love that teachers use rubrics all the time. We really drove a lot of our product by we wanted to do some things more like teachers do in terms of being able to see whether or not students were learning what we were teaching them.


Lisa Kathman: (37:37)

From a school perspective, the only thing we say is just make sure that that rubric is attached to the IEP, because if that student moves and somebody inherits your treatment plan, your IEP, then they'll have no idea how to measure that if they don't have the rubric attached to it. The other thing too, I think there've been a couple of people that have said they've gotten pushback from administration about using rubrics because they don't feel like it's as cut and dry and measurable as a percentage based goal. And so we always--


Sarah Bevier: (38:08)

but they like the graph, they like those graphs that have the percentage.


Lisa Kathman: (38:10)

We always just say engage in a conversation. Ask them why, what is their thinking? What is their fear in that? Show them. If you give a little explanation on how this might be a better way and more authentic way to measure that, I think oftentimes that's-- you know, it's not a state driven thing that you can't use a rubric. Like you said, teachers use them all the time. It's not something from the federal level either. So I think sometimes just engaging your administration in conversations that are meaningful can help with some of that.


Ryan Hendrix: (38:42)

Yeah, absolutely.


Lisa Kathman: (38:44)

So social thinking is that because it is more dynamic, and I think your iceberg analogy goes deeper. Would you say that it's different than just the term "social skills?"


Ryan Hendrix: (38:55)

Yeah, absolutely. And I think that there's a big difference between teaching social skills and teaching social competencies. So the competencies is the whole iceberg. It's getting beneath the surface, it's thinking about the thinking behind the doing. And social skills is just focused on that very surface level; raise your hand, you know, all those kinds of just the social skills, the turn-taking or whatever it might be. But what drives that and figuring out, "oh, now it's time to raise my hand" or, "oh, we've moved on, I should put my hand down." All of those things are the "why?" that's beneath the surface. So social thinking is teaching the thinking, the problem solving and the skills. But we always have to start by really backing up and teaching the thinking behind the doing.


Lisa Kathman: (39:44)

And that makes so much sense.


Ryan Hendrix: (39:46)

Well, I think that was one of the ways that I remember Pam talking about it just in a nutshell, is the thinking behind the doing. Oh, right, it is. And Michelle redefining this idea of thinking about successful social skills is our ability to share space effectively with others, because I think that helps. Social skills I think many times people get wrapped up in it being nice and neat and friendly. But effective social thinking-- sometimes you use that, you use your social thinking and social skills to avoid a conversation with somebody, right?


Sarah Bevier: (40:22)

Yes. Especially when I see somebody that I didn't really want to run into and I turn quickly and go down a different aisle.


Ryan Hendrix: (40:31)

Yeah, exactly.


Lisa Kathman: (40:33)

She came in to the office today and didn't even say hi to me. And now we have to do a podcast and I'm like... So I love how generous Social Thinking is just with education in general. I know that there are specific trainings that are conferences and things that you can pay for. But even I noticed today, I got something in my inbox about a free webinar that Michelle is doing. So there are lots of opportunities to learn more about this curriculum for free. There are lots of articles on the website to look into and learn more about Social Thinking. The products are probably the best investment that you could make, whether you're working in a clinic or a school setting, if you're working with any students that have any sort of social language needs. I mean, it's really such a well-rounded, well-thought out program. And I love, again, even the newer curriculum that's come out that even supports younger students is great. So it's not just for older students, there is stuff that supports preschool aged students as well.


Sarah Bevier: (41:34)

Do you have something you recommend where somebody--? because there is a lot, there's a lot of material out there. Is there somewhere you would recommend? I think my first exposure was "Thinking about You Thinking About Me."


Ryan Hendrix: (41:45)

For people who are new to the methodology, that is many times where we send them. Because it is kind of the backbone in talking about social learning challenges. The dynamic assessment that you mentioned is in that book as well. So there are assessment tasks and examples of how to write about some of this, which is so tricky and can be complex. And then there are lots of different ideas and activities and strategies. So I think that's a great starting place. And then I think it depends very much on the age group that you're working with. So you mentioned our early learner curriculum, and that's one of the other hats I get to wear, I get to do some writing for Social Thinking. So I was part of that team with Kari Zweber Palmer, and Nancy Tarshis, and Michelle. And thinking about how do we take these same concepts and how do we bring them down for our early learners? So you'll see across the curriculums the shared vocabulary, the Social Thinking vocabulary, is in all of them. So if you're working with our early learners, there's a curriculum for that. If you're working with our elementary aged students. So, and I think on the website it's organized by age groups too, and organized by if you're just looking for background overall information where you can go for that as well. And like anything, as an organization it is a work in progress. So the website is being updated, or we're adding new content. These webinars that you mentioned, Michelle is doing uncovering 10 core social thinking vocabulary concepts. And as you mentioned, those are free and there's one every month. And just lots and lots of different resources and places where you can learn more.


Lisa Kathman: (43:28)

And if you really want to geek out, you guys have the clinical training program, which is that twice a year?


Ryan Hendrix: (43:33)

No, it's monthly. Not in the summer, I don't think, at least in California. So Social Thinking as an organization has an office in the San Jose area, and then there is another office, Social Thinking Boston. And then people come through who are interested in learning more about Social Thinking. They've been to conferences, they've read some of the materials, they're using them. And if they're interested in a more intensive training, it's a three-day program where you get to come in and you get to observe an assessment and go through just from beginning to end. Chart review, watch the assessment, be part of thinking about what you observed, and then how that would get written up. And then you get to do two days of observing in the clinic. So you get to watch the clinicians in action, working across the age groups.


Sarah Bevier: (44:26)

That's like all of our dreams to have that opportunity.


Lisa Kathman: (44:30)

What if one just wants to be best friends? Say (unintelligible) Michelle and Pam? I mean how would one go about that? Maybe everybody already is in their head, like imaginary best friends.


Sarah Bevier: (44:42)

Lisa got a picture with Michelle a couple of years ago, and now she's convinced they're going to be best friends.


Lisa Kathman: (44:46)

She just doesn't know it yet.


Ryan Hendrix: (44:48)

And I do. I think that one of the things that I was struck by-- I remember going to-- after I'd been introduced to Social Thinking and was working with Pam and another colleague, Jeanine Rockman Shapiro. And we were looking at using the Social Thinking vocabulary and doing this research article. So we went to ASHA, we were going to meet Michelle and I felt like we were at a rock concert, she was like the star up on the stage. And at the time the rubber chicken was really prominent in a lot of her work, right? Because we all have those "oops" social moments, those rubber chicken moments. And in my memory, I was there in the crowd with my rubber chicken like, "Michelle!"


Sarah Bevier: (45:33)

I'm glad it's not just us.


Lisa Kathman: (45:33)

(unintelligible) What would MGW do?


Ryan Hendrix: (45:33)

Right? I know, those could be bracelets. But I think one of the things that's so nice is that she is so approachable and just she and Pam are just so down to earth and always super generous with their time and their knowledge, which is always so nice.


Sarah Bevier: (45:51)

And I think with any of this-- so we had the opportunity to work with Carrie a couple of years ago. She did a call in conference with us and then now meeting you too. Obviously, you guys all know what you're talking about and I could listen to any of you because you're all very relatable and you put things in terms that I can understand, and it's interesting. And, honestly, anytime I see a Social Thinking course pop up, I attend. Any conference--


Lisa Kathman: (46:18)

Even if you are a Wildcat.


Ryan Hendrix: (46:19)

Thank you. I'll play that down.


Lisa Kathman: (46:25)

Well this has been amazing. I'm really excited, I think our audience members are going to love this, because I think, again, anything that we can do to get concrete information in the hands of individuals that are struggling of what do I do with these kids? is amazing. And the social thinking curriculum is just that.


Ryan Hendrix: (46:43)

It's been a pleasure. Thank you all so much for having me.


Sarah Bevier: (46:47)

Yes. I know. I hope we have an opportunity to work together again in the future. I literally could just do this all day. I wanted to keep talking but we're gonna let you go, we know you're busy.


Ryan Hendrix: (46:57)

Alright well it's great to meet you computer screen to computer screen, and look forward to connecting.


Sarah Bevier: (47:04)

Thank you, Ryan.


Ryan Hendrix: (47:06)

My pleasure. Thank you. Alright, bye bye.