If you have experienced one these groups before, you understand that repeated participation results in confidence increase, increased recall and learning of the skills taught, and even connections with others outside of the group. Dr. Bowers utilizes a combination (see below) of his social skills methodology, Michelle Garcia-Winner’s Social Thinking Methodology, The Hidden Curriculum, Community Exercises, and Video Self-Modeling.
During the academic year, the students will meet for 40-45 minutes each week (over the course of 6 consecutive weeks), followed by a 15-20 minute parenting session to teach the week's lesson and provide exercises to use throughout the week to further your child's social development. Dr. Bowers will review strategies and also address specific parenting related questions you may have. Parents are welcome to wander and run errands during the first 40-45 minutes, but we ask that parents be available for the final 15-20 minutes to participate in this parenting piece. Please allow your child to bring something to keep them entertained during the parent meeting such as an iPad, iPod or Nintendo DS (or homework for those who might be so brave!).
Intensive summer camps are also available. These groups involve 3-4 members and each session runs for 4 weeks. The small groups will be divided into age groups of 8-11, and 12-16 year olds, and will meet for 2 hours each week. The groups are structured so that families can enroll their child in more than one session for continued social gains. Dr. Bowers' sessions include a strong parent component. Parents are educated on the concepts and strategies to help support their students in carrying the new concepts across their home and school day. This takes place for the last 20-30 minutes of each social group.
If you have not already done so, please complete the questionnaire below and return it to us; it will help Dr. Bowers determine if the class is a good fit for your child. Please note that social thinking classes do not require or focus on a specific diagnosis. We are seeking students who have social thinking challenges, anxiety in social situations, or who might be characterized by peers as ‘quirky.’
Here are some social ideas we will address in our groups:
The Hidden Curriculum is a dimension that families should consider when supporting the social skills of students. Hidden curriculum refers to those skills that we take for granted that everyone knows and understands, those for which children are not explicitly taught. For example, you don’t show up at someone else’s birthday party and blow the candles out on their cake! Most of us instinctively understand this, but those individuals with social thinking challenges often require explicit instruction in these areas. For boys, you don’t walk up to someone using the urinal and start talking to him! How often do we think to teach these types of lessons?
Video Self Modeling (VSM) may be used in these groups as well. VSM is a mode of teaching that uses video recording and display equipment to provide a visual model of the targeted behavior or skill. Video self-modeling is used to record the learner displaying the target skill or behavior and is reviewed later. Video modeling meets evidence-based practice (EBP) criteria with numerous single-subject studies. The evidence-based research indicates that video modeling can be effectively implemented with learners from early childhood through middle school. This practice can be useful with high school age learners as well. A consent form to allow for video recording of each student will be provided once you enroll in the group. DVDs of each student will be provided upon completion of the group during sessions when VSM is utilized. Please note that if your child has completed VSM with Dr. Bowers before, new target behaviors will be addressed in the next round of videos.
Finally, and weather permitting, we will explore community based opportunities (a trip to the mall, going out to dinner) to further promote generalization of the skills in more everyday settings.
Dr. Bowers has provided psychological services to children, adolescents, and families for the past 15 years. He specializes in neurodevelopmental diagnoses (i.e., Autism Spectrum, Asperger's, ADHD, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Learning Difficulties) and helping quirky kids develop social skills. He has developed a mobile application for Apple devices to help children practice and improve their social skills and he has written a book on improving social skills with children and adolescents. His next book, "8 Keys to Raising the Quirky Child" will be published internationally by W.W. Norton & Co. next year.