Social Thinking Groups™
Social Thinking Groups®, is designed to help people develop their social competencies to better connect with others and live happier, more meaningful lives. It provides unique treatment frameworks and strategies to help individuals as young as four and across the lifespan develop their social thinking and social skills to meet their personal social goals. These goals often include sharing space effectively with others, learning to work as part of a team, and developing relationships of all kinds: with family, friends, classmates, co-workers, romantic partners, etc. The process utilizes peer-reviewed research and client family values to foster the development of:
- social self-awareness
- perspective taking/theory of mind
- executive functioning
- social-emotional understanding
- social skills
- organizational systems
- reading comprehension
- written expression
- and more
The Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS®) was originally developed at UCLA by Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson and Dr. Fred Frankel in 2005 and has expanded to locations across the United States and the world. PEERS® is a manualized, social skills training intervention for youth with social challenges. It has a strong evidence-base for use with adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum disorder, but is also appropriate for preschoolers, adolescents, and young adults with ADHD, anxiety, depression, and other socioemotional problems.
The SCERTS® Model is a research-based educational approach and multidisciplinary framework that directly addresses the core challenges faced by children and persons with ASD and related disabilities, and their families. SCERTS® focuses on building competence in Social Communication, Emotional Regulation and Transactional Support as the highest priorities that must be addressed in any program, and is applicable for individuals with a wide range of abilities and ages across home, school and community settings.
The Hanen approach has led the way in changing early language intervention by putting parents first in order to help children best.
Many years ago, early language intervention involved speech-language pathologists "treating" a child in a therapy room with little or no parent involvement. In the early 1970's, research began to reveal that the involvement of parents in their child's early intervention was critical and that the earlier parents were involved, the better the outcome for the child. Research also showed that children learned best in their natural environments, where they were motivated to communicate with the important people in their lives. This required a significant change to the way speech therapy was offered to young children.
So, in 1975, Ayala Hanen Manolson, a speech-language pathologist in Montreal, Canada, developed an innovative program for groups of parents whose children had significant language delays. This program did something novel: instead of giving the children speech therapy once a week, Ms Manolson gathered their parents in a group for a series of sessions and taught them how they could assume a primary role in helping their children develop improved communication skills.
The Greenspan Floortime Approach is a system developed by the late Dr. Stanley Greenspan. Floortime meets children where they are and builds upon their strengths and abilities through creating a warm relationship and interacting. It challenges them to go further and to develop who they are rather than what their diagnosis says.
In Floortime, you use this time with your child to excite her interests, draw her to connect to you, and challenge her to be creative, curious, and spontaneous—all of which move her forward intellectually and emotionally. (As children get older, Floortime essentially morphs into an exciting, back-and-forth time of exploring the child’s ideas.)
For any age child, you do three things:
- Follow your child’s lead, i.e. enter the child’s world and join in their emotional flow;
- Challenge her to be creative and spontaneous; and
- Expand the action and interaction to include all or most of her senses and motor skills as well as different emotions.
As you do all this, while staying within her focus, you are helping her practice basic thinking skills: engagement, interaction, symbolic thinking and logical thinking. To master these skills requires using all these senses, emotions, and motor skills, as The Greenspan Floortime Approach™ explains.
Dr. Greenspan developed Floortime for families to enable them to support their child’s development. Floortime can be done at home or at a clinic, but it’s useful, especially at the beginning, to have some guidance from a comprehensive source.
Applied behaviour analysis focuses on the principles that explain how learning takes place. Positive reinforcement is one such principle. When a behaviour is followed by some sort of reward, the behavior is more likely to be repeated. Through decades of research, the field of behaviour analysis has developed many techniques for increasing useful behaviors and reducing those that may cause harm or interfere with learning.
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is the use of these techniques and principles to bring about meaningful and positive change in behaviour.
As mentioned, behavior analysts began working with young children with autism and related disorders in the 1960s. Early techniques often involved adults directing most of the instruction. Some allowed the child to take the lead. Since that time, a wide variety of ABA techniques have been developed for building useful skills in learners with autism – from toddlers through adulthood.
These techniques can be used in structured situations such as a classroom lesson as well as in "everyday" situations such as family dinnertime or the neighborhood playground. Some ABA therapy sessions involve one-on-one interaction between the behavior analyst and the participant. Group instruction can likewise prove useful.
The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) is a comprehensive behavioral early intervention approach for children with autism, ages 12 to 48 months. The program encompasses a developmental curriculum that defines the skills to be taught at any given time and a set of teaching procedures used to deliver this content. It is not tied to a specific delivery setting, but can be delivered by therapy teams and/or parents in group programs or individual therapy sessions in either a clinic setting or the child’s home.
Psychologists Sally Rogers, Ph.D., and Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D., developed the Early Start Denver Model as an early-age extension of the Denver Model, which Rogers and colleagues developed and refined. This early intervention program integrates a relationship-focused developmental model with the well-validated teaching practices of Applied Behavior Analysis(ABA). Its core features include the following:
- Naturalistic applied behavioral analytic strategies
- Sensitive to normal developmental sequence
- Deep parental involvement
- Focus on interpersonal exchange and positive affect
- Shared engagement with joint activities
- Language and communication taught inside a positive, affect-based relationship
Who can benefit from the Early Start Denver Model? What Has Research Shown?
The Early Start Denver Model is the only comprehensive early intervention model that has been validated in a randomized clinical trial for use with children with autism as young as 18 months of age. It has been found to be effective for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) across a wide range of learning styles and abilities. Children with more significant learning challenges were found to benefit from the program as much as children without such learning challenges. A randomized clinical trial published in the journal Pediatrics showed that children who received ESDM therapy for 20 hours a week (15 hours by trained therapists, 5 hours by parents) over a 2-year span showed greater improvement in cognitive and language abilities and adaptive behavior and fewer autism symptoms than did children referred for interventions commonly available in their communities.