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Being Social: Social and Emotional Competencies

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Being Social (social and emotional competencies) encompasses social behaviors such as social cognition, social communication, social self-skills, social skills to name a few.  For many, socially interacting comes naturally, and thinking socially is learned intuitively and through observations for the most part.  However, for those with weak social cognition and social skills, the thoughts and acts of communicating with other people can be anxiety-producing, physically debilitating, and avoided at all costs. 


These students are often misunderstood and thought of as annoying or weird, bullied, and or ostracized.  As a mentor trainer for Michelle Garcia-Winner's program Social Thinking, I utilized many strategies from this program in my language-based approach to teaching students to "Be social," engage in social thought processing, learn to take perspective, observe and understand the social behaviors of others, understand and use emotional vocabulary, identify the emotions of others, and generally be more socially and situationally aware.  S.E.B.S. Brainery provides social therapy services to individuals and small groups to develop a social brain.  

The social brain is used in school to think, socialize, learn, behave, communicate, and advance related academic skills.  Each social competency is influenced and connected to other social skills and develops as students age by becoming more refined and complex.  Aspects of all the other Cogmental Domains are required to functionally acquire new social skills, social understanding,  and to fluidly use a social brain.  For example, attention, self-regulation, pragmatic language, auditory and visual processing skills, working memory, and response inhibition are a few other cogmental skills required to socially interact and learn social information.  

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Characteristics of Impairments in Thinking & Behaving Socially

Social challenges may present as:

  • Having no real close friends

  • Impulsive physically, verbally, and emotionally

  • Says what he thinks without considering other peoples feelings

  • Self-centered thinking

  • Difficulty joining an existing group

  • Exhibits frustration over social interactions

  • Doesn't read nonverbal facial cues or body gestures

  • Misinterprets social messages

  • States things are unfair frequently

  • Challenges recognizing their own emotions and the emotions of other  people or animals

  • Narrow/perseverative interests

  • Inappropriate sense of humor

  • Socially awkward

  • Average scores on social tests but can't implement strategies in the moment during social interactions

  • Thinking literally and difficulty abstracting

  • Over reacts frequently, even over small issues

  • Verbal messages do not match facial expressions

  • Becomes frustrated and angry easily over social interactions 

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