Meet Dr. Karina Poirier

Dr. Karina Poirier has worked as a behavior analyst in private practice for the last 18 years.  As the director of the Center for Social Cognition, Dr. Poirier provides direct therapy to children & adolescents with autism using behavior analysis principles and techniques, implementing early intervention programming, and conducting social skills interaction group. The outcome of Dr. Poirier’s evidence-based teaching methods is an active and independent learner who can fully participate in the social, academic and vocational settings.

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Dr. Karina Poirier

“The most amazing thing about this book is that it can easily appeal to the layperson, the scholar, and even the clinician. That’s because the author carefully explains sophisticated theories like Theory of Mind (ToM) and Executive Function (EF), while carefully illustrating ways in which these concepts directly relate to those affected by ASD. The end result is a well-researched, ASD roadmap. Suddenly, in just one book this complex disorder is demystified for the reader.”


Center for Social Cognition

Executive Function Skills

The ability to think is often taken for granted; however, the capability to do so plays an integral role in our development and enables us to recognize that we are social beings. To paraphrase a popular saying, we think, therefore we are. In a way, life is a series of little challenges, one after another, and most of us depend on a mental framework of executive functions (EFs) to carry us through. EF is defined as the mental system that organizes high-level thought processes, such as memory, multi-step tasks, planning, initiation, mental flexibility, and inhibition. When a child’s EF isn’t working as it should, he or she can become confused or overwhelmed easily.

Language and Communication Skills

Language acquisition involves more than stringing words together; it’s the bridge between the outside world and the mind. To learn how to communicate effectively, the child must be exposed to a good language model and engage in meaningful social interactions. Simply put, communication is more than just language; it is a social event using language as a tool to share information, reason about the world, express opinions, and influence others’ attitudes.

Social Play Intervention

Play is an essential part of the learning process and its ability to mimic real-life scenarios makes it an ideal way to stimulate social, language, and cognitive development. Play allows children to practice language and social skills in a safe and pleasant environment. They learn to openly express their point of view and to interact freely and confidently with others. For children with autism, however, play tends to be ritualistic, repetitive, and isolated due to poor social initiation skills and lack of understanding social cues. Using an eight-part guided play structure, the clinician exposes the child to all areas of development (communication, cognition, social & emotional) in a way that builds his understanding of a play theme by layering different skills through each of the eight steps, with each skill set building on the next.

Social and Emotional Skills

Engaging in socially competent behavior requires cognitive, behavioral, and emotional processes to operate in concert. In a social setting, a child must have the ability to (a) gather and organize information about the social environment, including people and events involved, (b) interpret this information and make meaning of it, (c) self-regulate behavior by inhibiting impulsive responses to it, and (d) decide how to respond appropriately to the situation.

The Social Potential Roadmap is a turnkey solution for building an effective clinical intervention that achieves maximum potential for learners. Dr. Poirier reveals how to use guided social interaction to advance development.  She shares practical strategies to teach highly-effective storytelling, social language, friendship skills, and problem solving skills that are vital to intellectual growth.

The Social Potential Roadmap is designed to help a child (a) develop an awareness of his interactive strengths and weaknesses; (b) develop knowledge of social rules, roles, and routines; (c) learn how to recognize and understand social behavior in other people; (d) learn how to communicate his intentions correctly; (e) learn how to change the way he communicates to meet changing social needs; and (f) learn how to start and maintain interaction with others.

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Unlocking Social Potential in Autism

Autism is a journey in which the child and her family navigate challenges and experience achievements along the way. To guide you in this rewarding journey, Dr. Karina Poirier offers her expertise in this book that educators and parents will find incredibly useful.

Unlocking Social Potential in Autism is the Ultimate Roadmap to Autism Recovery. Dr. Poirier shares her years of working with children with autism into an easy-to-follow blueprint. In this book, you will find the answers you’ve desperately been seeking. Dr. Poirier has provided in simple, easy to comprehend language, an overview of child development, a descriptive explanation of how autism affects each developmental area, and guidelines for advancing the child’s development. You will appreciate the multitude of hands-on, sample guided social interaction lessons for teaching social and emotional skills, language, problem-solving and decision making, and play skills to children with autism.

The Poirier Social Potential Curriculum

Research clearly indicates that developing a child’s social and emotional understanding is far more effective when it includes tasks that build and strengthen their mental tools, or executive function. Executive function has been linked directly to social and emotional skills—yet developing executive function is rarely part of an intervention program, even though they should be.

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