Socially Skilled Series – Part 2: Social Behavior Mapping

Apr 6, 2016, 11:19 AM

Social Mapping

Social Behavior Mapping®:

Again, I rely on the Queen, Michelle Garcia Winner’s, Social Thinking® approach as it utilizes a wonderful tool to help students understand the cycle of thinking, acting, and reacting in the social process.  It demonstrates that how we think influences how we act and our actions influence others’ thoughts, feelings  and reactions as a social consequence.  It is how relationships are built and destroyed.  Click here for the full article on Social Behavior Mapping.  This learning tool is a very resourceful way to track student behavior, which can then be used to assist in showing progress as one learns from their own social errors and successes.  I love that it does not focus only on the negative, but promotes and then offers an opportunity to celebrate the positive behaviors when they emerge.   It teaches perspective taking as well as problem solving in a functional manner.

One of the poster’s I love from Social Thinking® is:

One way I have promoted this tool within the school setting is by training a variety of Social Thinkingteachers as well as administrators how to utilize it when an unexpected behavior is encountered.  Have any of you ever experienced a student getting in trouble for social errors, that in reality are due to their disability rather than a purposeful act of disrespect?  Shouldn’t this be the ultimate teachable moment?  This is why I have trained the principals in our school to use this tool for certain students (although all students could really benefit from it, if you ask me) to demonstrate why they are in “trouble.”  Often times our students who have difficulty interpreting social situations end up in the principals office. What better time than to utilize such a tool?  When all staff are on board, not just the few specialists using the map, the power of it is grand.  It really hits home the idea that what we do impacts how others think of us and ultimately how we form, keep, and improve relationships.

Here is an example to really ponder how we interpret our social interactions.  It is an activity I do during staff in-services to demonstrate how our actions influence how others think about us and interact with us.  It helps to teach the hidden rules that many do not understand.

FIRST:  Watch the clip from the hit show “The Middle:” Sue Versus Axl.  This clip can be used for the older High School population as well for a great discussion.

Consider the expected and unexpected behaviors displayed in this scene and follow along with a Social Behavior map:

Was the end of that scene hilarious or what!?

Behavior 1

Behavior 2

Behavior 3

Behavior 4

All of the tips provided are demonstrations of how to utilize the Social Thinking® method within your daily lessons, whether it be an Occupational Therapy session, Language Arts or Social Skills.  I wholeheartedly agree with both Michelle Garcia Winner and Daniel Goleman in respect to the importance of social skills.

Being able to manage the ever-changing rules of the social world is a great accomplishment if learned as these rules can be so difficult to navigate without direct instruction.   


Many Thanks for Reading!
Meghan Dreyfus, MA CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist
Invo HealthCare Associates Therapeutic Consultant