The words “expected” and “unexpected” in the context of behaviors were coined by Michelle Garcia Winner as part of her Social Thinking Vocabulary.


They are words that are heard often amongst therapist, teachers, and parents, but what does it really mean for a behavior to be “unexpected”? Are all unexpected behaviors bad? Are all bad behaviors unexpected? What is the difference?


The answer lies not in the behavior itself but instead in the response that is provided or evoked. The idea behind this language is centered on teaching students to become successful social learners across a variety of settings.


Oftentimes, when a child is engaging in an undesired behavior, the student is scolded and nothing more. The terms found within Winner’s Social Thinking Vocabulary allow for an opportunity to teach instead of scold. Students are taught and encouraged to think more deeply not only about their behaviors, but also about the consequences of their behaviors and the way they affect the people around them. 


These terms also allow for behaviors to be taught in sets instead of each and every behavior (both positive and negative) being taught individually or as they occur. We can help students learn expected and unexpected behaviors for school, home, park, and more.


It is important to note that many children, especially those with a diagnosis related to social language, have a hard time understanding cause-effect and big picture concepts. This framework allows all children to learn what it takes to be effective social thinkers.


Do you want more informtion about your child's behaviors? Give this website a try, and reach out to us at Jones Therapy Services for anymore information you may need!


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