Key Topics: Social Attention & Perspective Taking for Literal-Minded Learners

Concrete Literal Learners Part 1: Understanding and Supporting the Social Emotional Learning needs of Challenged Social Communicators
Instructor: Ryan Hendrix

Part 1 of this two-part series explores

  • The power of social attention toward developing social interpretation
  • The Cascade of Social Attention and how to use Social Thinking Vocabulary to support and focus social attention


Part 2 of this two-part series offers teaching ideas and shows how social learners evolve in their understanding of the social world as they grow up. Group lessons for different age groups will also be introduced.


3 hours of training and CE credit available for select professionals. For any special accommodations or assistance with resources email us.

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Part 1: Understanding and Supporting the Social Emotional Learning needs of Challenged Social Communicators

Series Name: Zooming In on Strategies for Concrete Literal Learners

If you are working or living with an individual(s) who tends to be very literal in how they interpret and respond to social information, this course will explore their social learning needs. Using video from therapy sessions, we’ll outline the characteristics of five different social learning styles and zoom into the characteristics of Challenged Social Communicators (CSC). We’ll provide concrete examples of how these social learners interpret information in a very, very literal manner, which contributes to extreme challenges with problem-solving abilities. Practical strategies to encourage the development of fundamental social concepts will be demonstrated. Practical recommendations will focus on helping these social learners become a little more flexible when interpreting what’s happening in their social world.

Replay access through July 31, 2023

Individual / Small Group
$69.00 per attendee
1-4 Attendees
Attendee #1
Team / Large Group
$59.00 per attendee
5 or more attendees
15% Discount
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Non-Professional & Family
$59.00 per attendee
Intended to help people using the information in their personal lives.
15% Discount
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Detailed Description

Who should attend

The Social Thinking® Methodology explores the strengths, differences, challenges, and needs of different types of social emotional learners with an understanding that a diagnosis may not help to pinpoint specific social learning targets. We have found that a diagnosis of autism spectrum is routinely used as a catchall to describe three very different types of social emotional learners as outlined in the DSM-5 (e.g., Levels 1, 2, and 3). In fact, we work with many individuals who struggle with social emotional learning but are not considered to be autistic. The Social Thinking–Social Communication Profile (ST–SCP) is one way to explore the learning characteristics of different social learning styles to better understand the individual, their learning strengths, and differences and/or challenges regardless of diagnostic label.

In part one of this two-part series, we will briefly review five different learning styles and then focus our lens on individuals we describe as Challenged Social Communicators. We will provide concrete examples of how these learners interpret information in a very, very literal manner, resulting in ongoing issues with problem-solving. We’ll also outline the learning strengths of this cohort and explore fundamental aspects of social learning. We will demonstrate why some core lessons may seem basic but are incredibly important to teaching what is happening in the world around us, in digital media, and stories.

This course will include but not be limited to these topics:

  1. Defining what is meant by “social thinking”
  2. Discussing different types of attention
  3. Exploring the power of social attention towards developing social interpretation
  4. How social interpretation is critical for the evolution of one’s social competencies
  5. Introducing the Social Thinking–Social Communication Profile
  6. Describing the characteristics (strengths, differences, and challenges) of five different types of social learners
  7. Explaining why each cohort has its own social emotional learning trajectory across a lifespan
  8. Exploring the Social Thinking Social Competency Model
  9. Using Social Thinking Vocabulary to support and focus social attention
  10. Defining two basic levels of perspective taking
  11. Exploring, through video examples, core activities to enhance development of perspective taking
  12. Prognosticating to help parents to prepare for transition to adulthood

Who Should Attend

The Social Thinking Methodology is used by a wide variety of professionals; including speech-language pathologists, special and general education teachers, social workers, counselors, clinical and school psychologists, occupational therapists, behavior specialists, and school administrators to name a few. It’s also used by family members and caregivers across settings.

About this Series

A two-part series

In this two-part series, we focus on developing rule-based social learning activities that connect to educational standards and support social learners with significant social attention and social interpretation challenges. We will concentrate specifically on understanding and supporting Challenged Social Communicators (CSC) in part 1 and Emerging Social Communicators (ESC) in part 2. These social learners are described as having relative strengths in concrete learning with a tendency to interpret both social and written information in a very literal manner. Parents often report struggles with organization, sarcasm, literalness with reading comprehension and writing, as well as a more awkward manner when socially engaging with peers. Both parts of this series will explore the power of social attention using video clips to provide explicit and practical examples for teaching basic social concepts to encourage the development of theory of mind (perspective taking), sharing social attention, and awareness of trickery.

We will also address assumptions about social attention, learning in groups, and reliance on test scores to guide intervention planning. We will examine how socially based critical thinking and executive functioning make it difficult to truly understand the social learner’s real-time learning abilities.

Learning Objectives and Agenda


Participants will be able to:

  1. Describe two or more core characteristics of the Challenged Social Communicator and explain the impact on social and academic learning
  2. Explain why it’s essential to track what another person knows or doesn’t know when co-existing or interacting in a classroom or home
  3. Define one strategy to help students who are Challenged Social Communicators figure out “who knows what”


5 minutes Dr. Pamela Crooke, PhD, CCC-SLP, co-developer of the Social Thinking® Methodology and Social Thinking Chief Curriculum Officer: welcome and introduction to Ryan Hendrix

1 hour and 10 minutes Power of social attention through the lens of the Social Thinking—Social Competency Model, the Social Thinking–Social Communication Profile, anxiety trends in concrete literal learners

1 hour and 5 minutes Sequence for teaching about thoughts and feelings, strategies for teaching attention and interpretation. Prognosis

40-minutes Previously Recorded Q & A

Continuing Education Credit

3 hours toward CE credit, if applicable

Click here to see if you can receive CE credit by Profession and by State


We are proud to provide access to continuing education credit for:

  • Speech-Language Pathologists (livestream and On Demand)
  • Educators (livestream and On Demand)
  • ...and others!

See Detailed CE Info

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