Webinar Review: Critical Life Skills for Tweens, Teens, and Young Adults that Often Remain Untaught

Gabe Ryan, Blog Writer and Contributor, School Health Corporation


Webinar Title: Critical Life Skills for Tweens, Teens, and Young Adults that Often Remain Untaught

Webinar Presenter: Michelle Garcia Winner


I recently had the opportunity to tune into a webinar hosted by Parents Helping Parents (PHP) that focused on young people and important life skills necessary for transitioning into the adult world. PHP is a nonprofit resource center serving families in Santa Clara, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Monterey & San Benito counties in California, providing resources and support to parents, caregivers, and individuals with disabilities. This agency has been around since 1976. In August, PHP hosted an hour-long webinar titled: Four Critical Life Skills for Tweens, Teens, and Young Adults that Often Remain Untaught, it was presented by Michelle Garcia Winner.

In this Webinar, Michelle Garcia Winner shares her unique perspective from her 25 years of working as a Speech Pathologist. She also describes several free resources available from her website Social Thinking at www.socialthinking.com. A recording of the presentation Critical Life Skills for Tweens, Teens, and Young Adults that Often Remain Untaught, is posted on the PHP YouTube channel found at https://youtu.be/yea3yI9Wytc.

The five critical life skills Michelle presents are important building blocks for anyone with or without a diagnosed disability. While participating in the Webinar, I thought about my own level of skill in the areas she describes, as well as young friends and family members and how they could look more closely at these areas to build up their skills. Michelle stresses the importance that these life skills are just as, if not more, important than academic skills for college and career readiness.


Here are some of my key takeaways and quotes from Michelle Garcia Winner’s presentation points:

  • Critical Life Skill One: Define independence
  • Critical Life Skill Two: Learning life skills are not graded in school
    • “Problem solve with your student…avoid doing so much for your high school student”
    • Think about ways to build “self-management” into daily life routines and Individual Education Plan’s (IEP)
    • “Too many students are graduating with good grades, but they do not have functional or executive planning type of skills.” Examples, time management or doing your own laundry.
  • Critical Life Skill Three: No one is always happy and that is okay. Rather than pursue living a “happy life”, pursue living a life of well-being.
    • “If we allow for well- being then we allow for the experience of comfort and discomfort. Language matters”
    • Explore the Basic Feelings & Emotions Scale at Social Thinking.com
  • Critical Life Skill Four: Do more than talk about getting things done; do what you need to do to meet your goals. Learn more about what you want your future self to accomplish
    • “Bypass dreading on something and focus on accomplishing goals”
    • Executive Functions 4 steps: “Executive functioning - the process of self-management towards accomplishing ones’ goals… has to be tied to a goal”
  • Critical Life Skill Five: Learn to initiate face-to-face relationships to join a group and make a new friend
    • “Learning to initiate talking to people we don’t know is a super important skill. Life is about group work and being able to relate to others out there.”
    • “Many students have not developed relationships on campus or in the workplace; some kids can go their entire school life without making their own friends.”
    • 6 Levels of the Friendship Pyramid- from friendly to friendship- Think Social Publishing


More resources are avaIilable on the socially thinking website www.sociallythinking.com with online trainings and publications written by Michelle Garcia Winner and her colleagues.





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