Date of Award


Document Type

Action Research Paper

Superseded Degree Name

Master Of Arts In Special Education

Colleges & School

College Of Education And Leadership

First Advisor

Sister Gabrielle Kowalski, O.S.F.

Library of Congress Subject Heading

Autism spectrum disorders; Autistic children--Behavior modification; Autistic children--Education; Social skills in children


The purpose of my research was to investigate the effectiveness of a social thinking curriculum from Think Social! A Social Thinking Curriculum for School-Age Students by Michelle Garcia Winner (2005) with a group of two elementary school students identified with high-functioning autism and autism spectrum disorder. The problem I was facing with my students with ASD, was that their deficits in social adaptability and interpretation of others’ thoughts and feelings was directly affecting not only their interactions during social situations but also their ability to function in the general education class with their peers. Teaching rote social skills was not effective in meeting the social needs of my students; therefore I researched alternative social curriculums and found many teachers in my district exploring the effectiveness of a social thinking curriculum. Although social thinking is a relatively new concept in the world of special education with limited evidence of its effectiveness, it is at its core a type of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). CBT has been heavily researched and found effective. Both components of CBT, cognitive and behavioral, contribute to successful social functioning in students. Behaviorally, students require a model of appropriate interactions, opportunities to practice skills and feedback to improve those skills. Cognitively, students need to learn how to interpret social cues and events. (Mennuti, R.B., Christner, R.W., & Freeman, A., 2006). Because of these components, the CBT model is often used in programs that target teaching social skills, social problem solving, and social thinking (Bauminger, 2002; Sze &Wood, 2007). The goal of Social Thinking is to teach students with ASD to develop a deeper understanding of social relations and social communication while also learning to interpret and execute related social skills. Students with ASD have not acquired these skills intuitively like their typical peers; therefore these students need to be taught how the social world works and why specific social skills are important in different situations. The results of this study may assist special education teachers while making decision about appropriate curriculum to address the social needs of their students with ASD.


On-Campus Access

OCLC Number