The Kenley School of Abilene and the Duncum Center are partnering with each other to introduce a new program the Social Thinking program to Kenley students. Social Thinking is a methodology that was created by Michelle Garcia Winter, a speech pathologist in California, and will be used at Kenley to address the social skills that students need.
“Social skills are extremely important to address academic success. Without social skills, kids may learn to read but they won’t read to learn.” Susan Postelwait said. “It’s really important that if you have a child with social skills deficits you teach them directly the social skills and social competency.”
This is exactly what Social Thinking will do for Kenley students. The program itself, much like the Kenley philosophy, focuses on each child’s strengths and weaknesses to help them achieve their individual goals. The program uses textbooks, videos, and games to help the student understand the concepts. In the classroom students, teachers, and parents are encouraged to use the vocabulary from the program.
Kenley School is a non-profit day school for boys and girls with learning disabilities in first through eighth grade. Kenley has had close ties with ACU since it’s beginning in 1971 when it was started by alumn Catherine Kenley. In the past decade, that connection has grown because of programs from the Duncum Center being incorporated into the classes at Kenley. These programs’ focuses vary within the five subsystems of language: phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. Now through the Social Thinking program, the students can learn the pragmatic aspect of the social use of language.
The main goal of Kenley School is to get students classroom ready. This includes aspects such as filling in gaps in their education, teaching them how to go learn excel in education despite learning disabilities, and now how to think through social situations. Kenley staff works with each student individually doing whatever it takes to accomplish their goals.This is a clear reflection of their motto: If a child doesn’t learn the way he is taught, we teach him the way he learns.
Qi Hang, Kenley’s director, said that “The students come to us lacking confidence. This program teaches students to feel good about themselves, and be confident.”
The Social Thinking program within Kenley focuses on arguably one of the most vital tools of life- the ability to interact and connect with society. “Most people want to connect, we are human,” Postelwait said. “It is hard for neuro-normal people like us to understand, but those who lack social competency are unable to connect, and they’re just well sad.” Humans are social creatures, and as such, they crave human interaction and dream of a sense of belonging. By collaborating on the Social Thinking program, the Kenley and Duncum staff’s purpose is to help Kenley students reach that dream inside and outside of the classroom.