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What Exactly is a Social Group for Children with Autism?

We interviewed Latha V. Soorya, PhD from the Rush University Medical Center to learn about the study of social skills groups for children with autism.

Many children with autism are working toward learning, building and strengthening their social skills. The Autism Assessment, Research, Treatment and Services Center (AARTS Center) at Rush University Medical Center has dedicated their mission to on-going research in hopes to find new interventions to help those with autism. Latha V. Soorya, PhD explains and answers some questions regarding their newest study on social skills and the use of Oxytocin. early autism

Oxytocin is a hormone that plays an important role in social bonding and connections. Social skills groups for children with autism are widely used and well-liked. The Autism Assessment, Research, Treatment, and Services Center at Rush is studying both of these treatments to better understand how to improve social connections in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). We are looking for 8-11 year old children with ASD to participate in a unique study called ION: Integrated Oxytocin and NETT (Nonverbal synchrony, Emotion recognition, and Theory of mind Training).

What is the benefit for parents? Families will receive support from therapists and other parents during parent groups that run at the same time as the social skills groups. Qualifying families will receive evaluations and treatment from licensed psychologists, child-psychiatrists, and therapists at no-cost as part of their participation in the social skills research study. The AARTS Center has run the social thinking group in the past, and a parent shared their positive feedback with us, saying, “We liked connecting with other parents during parent group and still use the materials from group to help our son focus on other people’s thoughts and feelings.”

How can parents & clinicians use the results? Before the study is published, families will receive results from their child’s evaluations as well as information about their progress. After publication, the AARTS center will share results with participating families, community partners, and the academic/medical community. Our hope is that the ION study will target social skills development in a new way, and that parents and clinicians will see lasting changes in the way that children with ASD apply these skills across settings.

Has similar research been done in the field? This is a unique study that combines promising research from two fields. Intranasal oxytocin may increase attention to social cues (e.g. where someone is looking) and social skills groups are well-liked and may help improve some aspects of social behavior. However, research also shows that changes from social skills groups, as well as intranasal oxytocin, do not last very long. This study is the first to examine what happens when the two treatments are combined.

What are you most excited about exploring in this study? We are most excited about this study’s potential to develop a more powerful, longer-lasting treatment for critical social thinking skills—skills we know are critical to navigating many life experiences and building social relationships.

Latha V. Soorya, PhD, is a clinical psychologist, board-certified behavior analyst and assistant professor of psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center. Soorya serves as the research director at the AARTS Center at Rush and brings expertise in diagnosis and intervention development to the research program.

For more information on the study, please contact Anthony Burns at 312-942-6331 or email Anthony_burns@rush.edu.

North Shore Pediatric Therapy

North Shore Pediatric Therapy

North Shore Pediatric Therapy is a group of experienced and dedicated Thought Leaders in pediatric therapy. We believe passionately in helping each child blossom to their ultimate potential.

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social IQ

Tips to Raise Your Child’s Social IQ

 

 

Social IQ is a concept developed around the idea of social skills and how well-developed they are in social settings. So much awareness is involved in developing social skills: Tone of voice, facial expressions, eye contact, gestures, and personal space (just to name a few). It is amazing we learn most of them through observation alone! Where is the class that teaches us how to share, compliment, join a group, manage conflict, and express and understand feelings!?
For some kids, social skills develop naturally and without much emphasis, but for others, these can be daunting skills to tackle. With the new school year upon us, the classroom is a breeding ground for social mishaps and social victories.

If you notice your child struggles in social situations, here are some things you can do to help raise his Social IQ:

  • Get to know your child’s strengths and weaknesses: Is he flexible with his friends or does he tend to be a bit bossy?
  • Discuss with them the importance of friendships and what he thinks it means to be a ‘good friend’.
  • Set realistic social goals with your child (i.e. Lilly will congratulate two classmates if they win in a game or Johnny will introduce himself to a new classmate and ask to join in on an activity at recess.).
  • Involve teachers and counselors to help reinforce and observe goals.
  • Help your child talk about and identify feelings, facial expressions, and gestures.
  • Practice conflict management: develop a plan that’s easy to remember in ‘heated’ moments.
  • Take a deep breath, count to 3, and use “ I feel ______ when _________”.
  • Practice skills at home (i.e. sharing, complimenting, asking questions, waiting her turn to talk) and be a good role model!
  • Join a social skills group.
  • Social skills go far beyond the examples mentioned here, so this can be a great opportunity to not only learn new skills, but practice them with their peers in a structured setting.

Click here for a list of apps to help teach social skills.

Megan Pearson

Megan Pearson

Megan Pearson is a member of the Neuropsychology team as the Lead Neuropsychology Technician at North Shore Pediatric Therapy. Over the past year, she has assessed over 200 children presenting with ADHD, Learning Disabilities, Autism, Dyslexia, social-emotional issues, and more. Megan earned a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Illinois State University in 2007 and subsequently graduated from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology in Chicago with a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology in 2011. Megan is currently in the process of obtaining her LCPC credential. Megan also manages the neuropsychology blog team in developing and organizing blogs for NSPT. Over the years, she has had many wonderful experiences working with children in different capacities with a variety of backgrounds. She had the pleasure of conducting therapy and assessments with children and teens specializing in play therapy, anxiety, depression, behavioral disorders, and ADHD.

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Choosing The Right Friends: Supporting your Child’s Resiliency Against Peer Pressure

The older they get, the more independent they get. For adolescents, the world revolves around the friendship circle. While you can’t choose friends for your children, you can teach them how to choose wisely.  Some parents don’t get involved until it’s too late, when they desperately want their children to stop hanging out with bad influences. This may be accomplished, but the problem may return when the child meets someone similar. It’s more valuable to teach children about what a good friend means, rather than seek control over each individual peer of choice. You can start by asking your children to make a list of qualities that make up a “good friend” and helping them think about it objectively.

teenage friends standing outside

When discussing specific peers in their life, you can use the following questions as a screener:

Good Friend Checklist

  • Are you able to be yourself around them?
  • Do they make you feel good about yourself?
  • Do you have interests and hobbies in common?
  • Do you take turns being leader and follower?
  • Would you stand up for each other?
  • Do they want to help you when you’re upset?
  • Do they listen when you need to talk about your feelings?
  • Do they respect you when you say “no”?
  • Can you work it out together when you have a fight?

If most of the answers are “yes”, the friendship is likely to be a positive one and hopefully boosts self-esteem. If most of the answers are “no”, the friendship could lead to insecurity and poor decision-making and should be re-considered.  The “no” answers can also help identify which skills may need to be taught or strengthened.

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Marnie Ehrenberg

Marnie Ehrenberg, M.A., LPC, is a Licensed Professional Counselor. Marnie earned her Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy from Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. There, she also acquired strong clinical experience in child development by working with special needs children. Marnie earned her Bachelors Degree in Psychology from Indiana University, where her passion for helping children and families began to blossom into a professional career. Marnie currently practices psychotherapy and counseling, using creative play therapy techniques to work through social and emotional difficulties and also stimulate developmental needs. Marnie creates customized treatment plans to address a wide range of disorders including, but not limited to: anxiety, depression, ADHD, adjustment, and autism spectrum disorders. In addition, Marnie helps children, adolescents and parents acquire the skills necessary to cope with a range of difficult life experiences such as divorce, grief and loss, behavior problems, social skills, family conflict, and sibling rivalry.

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Organization, Social Skills, Puberty, oh my, Junior High! Get your teen ready!

The jump into middle school is a big one for many children and families!  So many unknowns! Higher demands from teachers for time management and organization, more pressure from kids socially, and puberty hitting, all at the same time!Girl in Junior High

Here are some Junior High tips!

Executive Functioning/ Organization

  • Make a daily written schedule and include wake up time, workout time, screen time and leave the house time.  Be very specific.
  • Buy an organization file binder versus the 8 separate folders your child may have had or been asked to bring.  This keeps them much more organized.
  • Ask the school for a locker in a preplanned place so your child does not have to run from one end of school to another if he has a tendency to be late.
  •  Think hard now if your child is struggling and ask for an IEP or 504 plan to get additional time or support.  This will be so helpful and his plan also follow him when he may need it on standardized exams.
  • Use a timer.

Social Skills

  • Get your child into youth groups or sports.  They can be through school clubs, park district, or religious organizations.  Youth groups are wonderful ways to find friends that are similar to your child.
  • Make plans with children that will be in his grade all summer.   He should not walk into school not knowing too many people, especially if he is timid or has any trouble socially.
  • Find a social group for teens at a local clinic or school so that he can practice his social skills with a trained professional.
  • Have your child read over the summer.  This makes them smarter and more confident.  An extra tip: they can also read about all kinds of junior high experiences.

Puberty

  • Read this great book mom and dad: “But I’m Almost 13!” by Kenneth Ginsburg.  It will help you understand and avoid so many struggles!
  • Don’t forget to talk with your child, give eye contact, and hold his hand when you are walking.   Just because he is growing up, does not mean he isn’t still your baby!
  • Kids who go out and start over-prioritizing their peers socially, physically, emotionally, may be looking for attention! Give your teens attention!  (See bullet above) and also, laugh with them, watch tv with them, take them out for an ice cream, don’t disengage!

Good luck!

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Deborah Michael

Deborah Michael, MS, OTR/L, is a pediatric occupational therapist and the founder of North Shore Pediatric Therapy. She is a professional advisory committee member of the Autism Society of Illinois. She is also a mother of five children. Her life’s passion has been to improve the lives of children and their families.

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Get your Child Ready for 1st Grade

For many children going to 1st grade is a huge milestone.  More hours spent in school, higher expectations for academic, behavior,  social skills, and more peer pressure.Child in First Grade

Here are some tips to parent these kids as “right” as you can before 1st grade:

Academics

  • Prepare your child with some online fun academics, flash cards, or any workbook for 1st grade readiness;  but make it fun!  10 minutes per day is enough! You can even try KUMON math and reading to get them strong in basics for math and reading.  This will also prepare them with homework.
  • Strengthen up any weaknesses your child may have in academics. If they need a little reading help, use the following tips in this blog. If they need some number work, try flashcards, or try a tutor, but even just 10 minutes a day can make a huge difference in their self esteem about academics.
  • Get your child tested now if you detect any challenges. Don’t wait for the teacher to say something at conferences!  Go get a good neuropsychological exam and you will know what strengths and challenges your child has and have an opportunity to grow them.
  • Use a daily schedule even in first grade for time management and learning appropriate skills.

Behavior

  • Make sure your child knows how to follow rules, understands boundaries, and knows the expectations of first grade children.  This includes raising hands, taking turns, staying quiet and getting involved/participation, etc.
  • Get your child some support if behavior is an issue.  There are social groups, social workers, books, all kinds of tools to help out there!
  • Your child needs to know what YOU expect of him and what your consequences  are at home.
  • Make sure your family gets proper sleep and food daily.

Social skills/Peer Pressure

  • Make play dates for your child and help model proper 1st grade skills.
  • Join a community playgroup/social group at a local clinic, park district or religious organization.
  • If you suspect something is still off about his social skills, get him evaluated and he can practice his skills with the right support.
  • Make sure to keep your child engaged and talkative with you so you can help him through the tough and great times of 1st grade.

Good luck!

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Deborah Michael

Deborah Michael, MS, OTR/L, is a pediatric occupational therapist and the founder of North Shore Pediatric Therapy. She is a professional advisory committee member of the Autism Society of Illinois. She is also a mother of five children. Her life’s passion has been to improve the lives of children and their families.

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What is an Appropriate Age for Dating? | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s webisode, a pediatric social worker explains ways to determine at what age it is appropriate for your child to begin dating.  Click here to read our blog titled “5 Tips For Your Dating Teen”

In this video you will learn:

  • How to tell if your child is ready to date
  • What factors weigh in on the decision of dating
  • How to tell if your child is ready to date

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a world wide
audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV, where we provide experience and
innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now, your host, here’s
Robyn.

Robyn: Hello, and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I’m your host, Robyn
Ackerman, and today I’m sitting here with Michelle Winterstein, a Pediatric
Social Worker. Michelle, can you tell our viewers at what age is it
appropriate to allow your child to start dating?

Michelle: Sure, Robyn. I don’t think that a specific age automatically
deems your child ready to start dating. I think it’s really an individual
factor, and it depends on the maturity of your child. I think the important
thing is when your child comes to you and expresses an interest in dating,
and you think that they are at the maturity level where they are ready for
that, then open up the lines of communication and make sure that your child
feels comfortable talking to you about the process of dating. I would also
recommend getting to know the child that your child is interested in dating
and make sure that that child’s family has similar values as your own.

Robyn: All right. Well, thank you so much, and thank you to our viewers.
And remember, keep on blossoming.

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of mind
to your family with the best in educational programming. To subscribe to
our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit our website at
learnmore.me. That’s learnmore.me.

Robyn

Robyn Ackerman, B.A. in Applied Behavioral Sciences has been in the education field for over 12 years. Her teaching experience includes: Special Education, Acting and Behavior Therapy. Robyn loves working in Social Media, online marketing and website development. Her biggest passions are spending valuable time with her growing family which includes her husband, two daughters and son.

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Helping Your Child Deal with Losing A Game

One of the most common challenges I see when working with kids, is difficulty with losing.  Many rounds of Candlyland have ended in tears and scattered game pieces.  For kids, losing can feel unexpected and extremely frustrating.  However, it’s important to learn to handle losing (and winning) in order to successfully navigate friendships.  So how can we help children learn to lose (and win) well from early on?  If you’ve ever found yourself wiping tears after a game, or rigging Candyland to avoid your child’s loss, then read on.  Here are 10 strategies to help your child better navigate winning and losing.

10 Ways To Help Your Child Handle With Losing:

  1. Prepare ahead-of time.  It can feel frustrating and unexpected for kids to lose a game.  Prepare your child ahead of time by introducing concepts of winning and losing, as well as how to respond.  For example: sore loser in a game“Sometimes we win, and sometimes our friends win.  It’s okay when our friends win!  Games are just for fun!”
  2. Redefine winningTalk to your child about what matters most.  Even though it’s fun to win, what matters most is sportsmanship, playing by the rules and being a good friend.  By prioritizing sportsmanship over winning, you can help your child feel accomplished for playing the game well, even if they didn’t win.
  3. Praise what is going well.  If we want our kids to value sportsmanship, then give them positive praise and affirmation for good behaviors.  Talk about what is going well during or after a game.  Use clear and descriptive feedback (e.g. “Wow! You said ‘congratulations!’ That was such a friendly thing to say to your friend.”) .
  4. Learn to win gracefullyRehearse appropriate phrases to use when your child wins.  For example, “Good game! That was so fun to play together!”.  Give your child clear feedback about how their words might make others feel.  For example: “Uh oh, I think your friend felt sad when you said ‘I won and you lost!’ What’s something friendly you could say instead?”
  5. Learn to lose gracefully.  Rehearse appropriate phrases to use when your child loses.  For example, “Congratulations!” or “Great game!”.  Give your child clear feedback about how their responses might make their friends feel.  For example, “Uh oh, when you ran away, your friends felt sad. It’s not fun to play when you run away from the game.”
  6. Talk about itIf you notice your child is beginning to escalate, reintroduce some of the concepts you discussed earlier (e.g. “Sometimes we win, and sometimes our friends win. It’s okay when our friends win. Games are just for fun!”).  Use a calm and positive tone to show your child that everything is okay.   If needed, take some time out to regroup and calm down.
  7. Practice, practice, practice. The best way to learn is by doing, so practice playing games with your child.  You might start by playing a game one-on-one, and rehearsing appropriate phrases to say to others (e.g. “Good try!” or “Great job!”).  Start with a simple game that’s not overly complicated, so your child can focus more on sportsmanship and less on game strategy.  Next, you might practice games during a play-date with a few friends.
  8. Set a good example. Children learn by watching and imitating, so set the tone by modeling good sportsmanship.  This isn’t just limited to playing board-games, but also includes how you respond to other moments throughout your day (e.g. handling traffic, when your favorite team looses, etc.).
  9. Encourage self-reflecting.  Encourage your child to think about their behavior after a game.  What went well?  What can we work on next time?  Incorporate lots positive feedback for things that were successful (“Wow, I like the way you let your friend go first!”), as well as constructive ideas for what to do better next time.
  10. Finally, try again. Learning takes time and practice.  If your child has a bad day, or a game ends in a meltdown, don’t be afraid to try again the next time you play together.  Your child may try to avoid a particular game that they’ve previously lost.  Use a positive tone, and encouragement them to try again.

Deanna Swallow

Deanna Swallow, M.A., CCC-SLP is a speech-language pathologist who earned her master’s degree from Northwestern University. Prior to living in Chicago, Deanna attended the University of California at Davis, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Human Development. During her time at Davis, Deanna served as a research assistant for an Infant-Development Study in the Department of Human Development. Deanna has experience working as a pediatric speech-language pathologist in private practice, Early Intervention, and in preschool and elementary school settings. She is strongly committed to helping children build confidence and achieve their maximum potential.

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Girl Power!: How to Empower Middle School Girls

MIDDLE SCHOOL GIRLS. What comes to mind when you hear those words? Moody? Self-absorbed? Preoccupied with peers? I often hear parents ask, “What happened to my sweet little girl?” or “Why doesn’t she open up to me?” As a parent, you may feel frustrated, confused, or sad about your daughter’s behaviors, especially if she did not act this way before.

The transition from childhood to adolescence, marked by the shift from elementary to middle school, is a challenging time. In fact, this transition marks one of the peak times when self-esteem decreases. These “tweens” may feel caught in the middle-given more responsibilities and expectations and no longer treated like a child, yet not treated like an adult. These changes they go through in the adolescent transition can challenge their self-esteem levels-how they think and feel about themselves and how they think others perceive them.

3 Challenges to Self-Esteem:

1. Shifts in academic expectations:

Middle School introduces multiple teachers, different classes, and an increased homework load that students are responsible to juggle and middle school girlbalance. Students may struggle with these changes, which can impact how they view their intelligence and ability to succeed. If they viewed themselves as good students in elementary school, this transition can be especially challenging to their academic self-esteem.

2. Shifts in social expectations:

Middle school involves students from multiple elementary schools, and girls navigate the transition from having the same best friends in elementary school to determining which groups they belong to in middle school. With more focus on cliques and popularity, girls may feel confused, isolated, and anxious about fitting in and feeling accepted. The emphasis on who is “in” and “out” can create a heightened sense of awareness in girls about how their peers view them. With the constant shifts of what behaviors, attitudes, activities, and clothes are accepted and rejected by, girls may feel the need to reinvent themselves, which can create instabilities in self-esteem levels.

3. Shifts in physical appearance:

Middle school marks the beginning of physical changes (ex. Puberty, acne, weight and height changes, braces, glasses, etc), which can feel scary, overwhelming, and embarrassing. These uncomfortable feelings can stop girls from reaching out and discussing these changes. Because of this, it is possible for girls to feel very alone, as if they are the only ones having difficulties with these changes.

So, how do we address these challenges to girls’ self-esteem? We empower. While the adolescent transition is a challenge to self-esteem, it is also an opportunity to improve and build high self-esteem. Teaching girls tools to explore who they want to be; take care of themselves; reach out for support; and create meaningful, positive relationships can help strengthen self-esteem.

4 Tips to Address the Challenges and Empower

1. Create an open space for conversation. Girls transitioning to adolescence may feel isolated, as if they are the only ones going through difficulties. Acknowledging to your daughter, “Middle school brings lots of changes for everyone” and asking open ended questions, such as “What have you noticed that is different about middle school?” can show her that these topics are on the table. Even if she does not want to answer right away, knowing that her parents understand that changes exist can help her open up in the future.

2. Listen and provide empathy before problem solving. As a  parent, you may want to help your daughter by giving advice and problem solving. Before these steps, however, your daughter needs to feel heard. Show that you are present with your daughter by nodding, asking open-ended questions (“What happened next?” or “How did you feel?”), and checking in to make sure you understand (“So you are saying that your friend said something that made you feel embarrassed?”). Demonstrate empathy by acknowledging that she could feel this way (“I could understand why you would feel angry”), even if you disagree with her behaviors or would feel differently yourself. Once you listen and provide empathy, empower your daughter by helping her problem solve. Ask questions, such as “What do you think you should do?” and “What do you think would happen if you did that?” Problem solving can help your daughter explore what type of student, friend, sister, daughter, and person she wants to be. Guiding her through this process can help your daughter feel supported and effective, which can increase the likelihood of her opening up to you in the future.

3. Begin potentially uncomfortable conversations.  There are many conversations (peer pressure, romantic relationships, puberty, etc.) that can be potentially uncomfortable or awkward to have with your daughter. Beginning these conversations, however, is important so that your daughter knows she can talk to you about these issues. These conversations can also serve as an opportunity to discuss the importance of self-care, which can improve self-esteem levels. Bring up the conversation in a gentle, matter-of-fact way (“There are many physical changes you will be going through that can feel confusing. Let’s talk about them together”). Acknowledge, normalize, and empathize with possible discomfort and awkwardness. Beginning the conversation can show your daughter that you are there to support them through this time.

4. Create opportunities for positive relationship building.  Because girls transitioning to adolescence can feel isolated, opportunities for meaningful, positive connections are vital. This can include enhancing already-existing relationships or seeking new ones. One way to build relationships is to join a social group. North Shore Pediatric Therapy is offering a 10-week group for middle school girls to strengthen their self-esteem levels. Click here for more information.

Beth Chung

Beth Chung, MSMFT, AMFT is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist. She graduated with a master’s of science in Marriage and Family Therapy from The Family Institute at Northwestern University. She is passionate about working with children who have emotional and behavioral challenges. She is also dedicated to collaborating with families to provide effective coping skills, enhance an encouraging home environment, and support positive family relationships. In her graduate training, Beth worked extensively with youth dealing with a variety of issues, including: depression, anxiety, ADHD, trauma, emotion regulation difficulties, and school/social challenges. She also worked with families facing: behavior management/parenting challenges, parent-child relational difficulties, separation/divorce, and transitional issues. She is excited to continue to serve youth and families at North Shore Pediatric Therapy!

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How Social Groups Can Help Your Child Navigate Friendships

Making friends involves an array of complex skills, from taking turns, to initiating interactions, considering others’ perspectives, negotiating, problem-solving, repairingKids Group communication breakdowns, and being flexible. For many children, these skills can be incredibly challenging, often resulting in difficulty with making friends.

What are the benefits of social groups?

Social groups are designed to help children develop and practice social skills in a supportive therapeutic setting. Many children lack the necessary skills to navigate peer relationships. Social group therapy directly teaches and practices any specific social skills a child may be struggling with. For example, research has documented that children with language-impairments often have difficulty verbally initiating peer interactions. Research has also well-documented that social group therapy can increase verbal initiation for children with language impairments. Social groups have also been found to improve skills such as:

• Greetings

• Nonverbal communication (e.g. understanding facial expressions)

• Turn-taking

• Cooperative play

• Dealing with confrontation and rejection

• Flexibility and sharing

• Initiating and joining in play

• Building confidence with peers

• Listening to others

• Problem-solving and negotiation

• Verbally communicating with peers

Should my child attend a social group?

Your child should attend a social group if you have any concerns with their ability to interact with peers. Additionally, social groups can also be a proactive way to prepare your child for social settings ahead of time. For example, a “kindergarten-readiness group” is an excellent way to encourage your child’s social skills prior to the first day of school.

Here are a few indicators that your child may benefit from a social group:

• Your child’s teacher often reports difficulties interacting with peers at school

• Your child seems to avoid interacting with other children

• You notice frequent conflicts during play dates or interactions with other kids

• Your child feels afraid or refuses to attend social gatherings (e.g. play-dates, birthday parties)

• Your child has difficulty being flexible during play activities (e.g. sharing others’ ideas, winning or loosing)

• Your child has difficulty joining in play or initiating interactions with other kids

• Your child uses physical actions instead of words to communicate with others (e.g. grabs a toy instead of asking, pushes others instead of verbalizing how they feel)

• Your child has had less opportunities to interact with age-matched peers

Last but not least, trust your intuition. If you are worried about your child’s ability to navigate friendships, then consider signing your child up for a social group. Contact a licensed therapist with questions or concerns to gain more information about whether or not your child may benefit from social group therapy. Social groups can also be an excellent way to prepare your child for school or camp ahead of time.

What is the next step?

If you think your child may benefit from a social group, contact our Family Child Advocate who can answer your questions and connect you with a licensed therapist. For more information, click the Social Skills button below:

 




learn-about-oursocial-skills-groups



Deanna Swallow

Deanna Swallow, M.A., CCC-SLP is a speech-language pathologist who earned her master’s degree from Northwestern University. Prior to living in Chicago, Deanna attended the University of California at Davis, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Human Development. During her time at Davis, Deanna served as a research assistant for an Infant-Development Study in the Department of Human Development. Deanna has experience working as a pediatric speech-language pathologist in private practice, Early Intervention, and in preschool and elementary school settings. She is strongly committed to helping children build confidence and achieve their maximum potential.

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Building Social Skills Through Play Dates

two kids playingYou worked diligently planning for today’s play date: abook to get things started, a seasonal craft to tie in education, and a creative snack to conclude the day.  Last you checked, breaking up a scuffle and mopping juice box puddles off the floor weren’t on the list.  So what went wrong?

Planning a play date can be overwhelming at times.  We want things to go as planned and, above all, we want our child to make friends.  Building friendships involves an array of skills, including initiating interactions, taking turns, being flexible, asking questions, and negotiating.  For children with language difficulties, these skills can often be challenging.  So how can we help them succeed?

Strategies to help your child navigate peer interactions during a play date:

  • Talk to your child ahead of time about their upcoming play date.  Discuss who is coming over and what is going to happen.  Include concepts such as taking turns, sharing, or being a good friend.  If possible, show your child a picture of their peer as you discuss. Read more

Deanna Swallow

Deanna Swallow, M.A., CCC-SLP is a speech-language pathologist who earned her master’s degree from Northwestern University. Prior to living in Chicago, Deanna attended the University of California at Davis, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Human Development. During her time at Davis, Deanna served as a research assistant for an Infant-Development Study in the Department of Human Development. Deanna has experience working as a pediatric speech-language pathologist in private practice, Early Intervention, and in preschool and elementary school settings. She is strongly committed to helping children build confidence and achieve their maximum potential.

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