In addition to core academic classes, students participate every week in Perspectives, where they explore the realm of social communication in engaging, creative ways. Perspectives is unlike traditional “social skills” groups that target specific skills or “facts” of the social realm. Instead, we treat social thinking the same way we treat other academic subjects—as a body of knowledge we want students to understand and think critically about. During Perspectives, we’ll use written word, multi-media, drama, and other dynamic activities to help students experience and analyze social situations.
Piloted in TGS’ inaugural year as a summer program, Perspectives continues to be offered weekly to TGS students in collaboration with Amy Thrasher, clinical assistant professor at the University of Colorado’s Speech, Language and Hearing Center. Graduate students in speech language pathology learn about the Asperger’s learning profile by serving as “coaches” for TGS students during planned activities that facilitate social engagement. The program integrates executive function with perspective-taking to provide students with strategies to help them respond adaptively in dynamic social situations.
Perspectives provides the foundation for a school-wide shared language and culture of social understanding that addresses this core challenge in ways that respect our students’ intellectual abilities. Perspectives is a cornerstone of the TGS’ educational program, and a required class for all TGS students.