Pragmatics and Social Thinking

Pragmatic communication (how we communicate in everyday situations) is often referred to as Social Communication.

Our regular, everyday interactions are social by their very nature. When we have difficulty with finding the right words to say, constructing a narrative to explain an event or knowing the appropriate non-verbal behaviour that fits the context, our social communication is impaired.

About twenty years ago, a remarkable SLP, Michelle Garcia Winner, devised a new approach to social communication which she called Social Thinking. She realised that finding words and non-verbal behaviour was only part of the picture. She connected the notion of “Theory of Mind” to the way we interact with other people.

Theory of Mind

What is it?

Theory of Mind is the ability to hold in mind thoughts about another person. People who have developed communication skills with relative ease “know”, somehow, that we all have thoughts about each other. Our thoughts about each other lead to feelings and all of this feeds into our behaviour in the company of each other. This is how we become “social beings”.

Michelle Garcia Winner has written many useful articles on this subject. Her work guides the current approach to therapy for social communication challenges used by many SLPs, (including this one!) I incorporate many aspects of the pioneering work of Garcia Winner in my therapy.