How will my child’s placement in a group be determined?
Social Foundations has a well-earned reputation for taking care to match students with like-minded peers. Our own experience — as parents and as professionals — informs our belief that students learn best about satisfying social interaction with peers they are can identify and connect with.
We take the time to learn about each student and his or her family before we determine whether we can offer placement in a group. After careful review of each application, if we potentially have a good group to offer, we schedule an intake meeting with each student and family. With staff, we discuss the family’s goals, the student’s learning needs, and potential group placements to determine the best fit. Only then do we offer placement in a social group.
Can you explain what you do in your groups? I like the ideas, but exactly how do you teach them?
We all continually fine-tune our working understanding of the social world, including the hidden social rules of relationships, and how to read and respond to others in adaptive ways. But our students come to us because they need explicit, clear teaching of the social concepts and strategies necessary for navigating the social world. So we often use visuals like drawings, scales, photos and videos. We also use clear and descriptive but neutral vocabulary from Social Thinking to describe social cognitive skills we are working on.
In our groups, all of this social learning — concepts, vocabulary, strategies and tools — is paired with opportunities for practice. Our students do a wide variety of age-appropriate, collaborative, engaging activities that are selected based on group members’ interests and preferences as often as possible. The social learning work our students do with us is challenging! So we will gladly build a cardboard arcade, design fairy costumes, play Risk or chess, build forts, create art, produce a play or do volunteer work. We intentionally model flexibility in the curriculum in order to support our students’ investment in in their own social learning process.
Parent education and support: The key to ensuring that social learning is applied in the real world.
To help a child with social learning challenges grow and flourish, parents need to know when to take a different approach, try out new skills, or shift their thinking in some way. Sometimes our children’s social learning differences mean that they don’t learn social lessons as readily from conventional parenting approaches.
Our own experience as mothers of children with significant social challenges has informed our understanding of the vital need for well-informed professional help. We have learned a tremendous amount from the parents we have worked with over the years years about what they really need, and what really helps.
We offer unparalleled parent education and support:
– Parents meet once a month during their child’s group to develop the skills, vocabulary and approaches that will work best in translating the gains from our group sessions to the outside world.
– We are available for additional, short-term consultation with one or both parents to focus on sibling issues, home-based challenges, playdates and other specific needs. About half of the families we work with do some individual work with us at some point.
– We offer hands-on, interactive parent workshops to drill down on topics parents need more in-depth practice with.