- All classes consist of a maximum of 6-8 students per 2 professionals.
- Each class is 90 minutes long and includes a combination of direct instruction and facilitated positive practice conducted during play/leisure activities.
- Classes are scheduled after school hours and meet weekly for approximately 10 week sessions.
- Each class includes our “Class News”, an outline of the class activities for that day with suggestions for generalizing and maintaining skills at home, at school, and in the community.
- Progress reports are generated and shared with parents bi-anually for students who have attended a minimum of 2 sessions.
- Children are placed in classes following an initial intake and informal assessment with the parent and child to determine needs and ensure appropriate placement.
- Children are placed in groups with other children who are age/grade appropriate and who share similar cognitive levels and social/behavioral needs.
Criteria for Classes
Due to the length and structure of our classes, the children must meet certain criteria in order to benefit from the instruction:
- Students must be able to sit in a small group setting and attend to direct instruction for a minimum of 30 minutes.
- All students must be able to communicate at a phrase/sentence level. Although we have students on varying levels of communicative ability, our program is a language-based program and, to benefit from the instruction, the student must be able to communicate with his/her peers.
- All students must be toilet trained.
- Students must be compliant to staff directions. This program is designed for children and adolescents who desire friends, but who do not posses the skills necessary to develop and maintain those relationships. It is not a behavior change program, nor is it intended for children who are oppositional or have severe behavior problems such as physical or verbal aggression.
Our classes are based upon our research-based methodology, STARS. We believe that in order to effectively teach “social-cognitive” skills to children and adolescents, it is important to include the following:
- Social/pragmatic language instruction taught in natural situations
- Teaching of skills through direct instruction, modeling, and positive practice
- Awareness and perception of self and others
- Reinforcement of positive experiences/friendships
- Stress management and positive thinking strategies for use when “things” don’t work out the way we like them to
Although many social skills are addressed during our 90 minute classes, each week our direct instruction targets one specific skill. Some of the skills that our curriculum covers include:
Social Interaction Skills
- What is a friend?
- How to be a friend
- Levels of friendship
- Recognizing feelings
- Initiating interactions
- Maintaining interactions
- Active listening
- Conversation skills
- Ending interactions
- Nonverbal communication
- Sharing and negotiating
- Developing new interests
- Showing empathy for others
- Good manners
- Understanding social cues
Conflict Resolution Skills
- What is a conflict?
- Understanding differences
- Being flexible
- Working/playing cooperatively
- Solving disagreements & conflicts
- Dealing with teasing & bullying
- Being left out
- How and when to ask for help
- Dealing with peer pressure
- Understanding consequences and making choices
- Positive strategies for dealing with negative emotions
- Dealing with disappointment
- Understanding and communicating feelings
- Recognizing feelings of anxiety
- Using self-control
- Utilizing breathing strategies
- Progressive body relaxation
- Effective visualization