If you follow the academia papers (and really who doesn’t!) you’ve seen this paper on Social Thinking analyzing whether or not Social Thinking is pseudoscience and harmful to those with autism.
Michelle Garcia Winner and Pamela Crooke of Social Thinking responded (you can see it here) that while their curriculum has not been tested in its entirety as a stand-alone treatment package, it does have a lot of evidence-based practices written into the curriculum and is meant to be used in conjunction with other services.
There is another response to Michelle Garcia Winner and Pamela Crooke’s response, but I think you get the idea. The behaviorists have labeled Social Thinking pseudoscience, and Michelle Garcia Winner (SLP and creator of the curriculum) vehemently disagrees.
I have taught Social Thinking and rather than wade into the pseudoscience vs. evidence-based debate, I thought I would give an honest review as someone who has used Social Thinking in their classroom.
I started with the book Think Social: A Social Thinking Curriculum for School-Age Students. This book is listed for students 4+. As I read through it I noticed that there are a lot of suggestions that elementary-age kiddos would love (such as bonking people on the head with rubber chickens) but in a middle school classroom could quickly turn to fisticuffs. However, the curriculum is easily adaptable to each classroom, as it is not meant to be a scripted Social Skills intervention, but rather a guide.
Think Social! Is meant to be paired with some of Michelle Garcia Winner’s other books, Thinking About You Thinking About Me and Social Behavior Mapping. It can also be paired with Leah Kuypers’ Zones of Regulation. I have used all of them.
Pros: incorporates evidence-based practices into the curriculum (PBIS, positive reinforcement systems, behavior skills training, modeling, peer-relationships, self-monitoring sheets and checklists, teaching students the ABC pattern of behavior); personalizable to your classroom, my students seemed to really enjoy the lessons; written by an SLP to address communication
Cons: takes some work to adapt for higher grade levels, has some of the basics of ABA written in but requires adaptations to further align; it does teach students to think of what others are thinking/want you to do and adjust their behavior accordingly (in some situations this could be a negative way to think)
Alternatives to Social Thinking:
PEERS (more scripted/structured, based on CBT research, and divided into separate units for preschoolers, adolescents, and adults, includes units for parents to follow-up at home)
AIM (developed by BCBA’s; based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy)