Michelle Garcia Winner, developer of Social Thinking, and a variety of other experts on Social Thinking and ABA will be presenting, and debating, at the Social Thinking Conference, December 3 to 5, 2014, in Concord, CA. Although Michelle is a Northern California resource, she's a national speaker, and this is a rare opportunity to hear from her locally. For more information, check out the link to the Social Thinking Conference.
It's well known that kids on the autism spectrum struggle with generalizing learning from one setting to another. Simon Baron-Cohen explains this by way of the extreme systemizing theory of autism, where autistic individuals set up rules to understand the world, and those rules don't easily generalize from one situation to another. I think this difficulty is clearly apparent in social situations. So often, I've worked with children who could teach the content of a social skills class, yet they struggle to apply those same skills in any meaningful way in their own lives.
That's why I like to see experiential social skills training, rather than more didactic, instructional training. When an individual has the experience of doing activities with others, ideally with some support on the social skills involved, and he/she gets to apply the intellectual theories of social skills in a real, social setting, that person has the chance to practice, understand and learn those skills, rather than merely recite them. Experiential learning takes place in many settings, from a group project in the classroom, to sports teams, to hobby groups and camps. When I work individually with children and teens, I combine instruction on social skills to application, through here and now games and activities. Whenever I get the chance, I bring up what's going on socially, right in the session. I think the most useful part of many social skills groups isn't the skills discussion around the table, but rather the shared pizza time afterward.
So what's the point of all this instructional theorizing? The experiential call to action! It's February, and not too soon to think about summer camps. There are so many good ones, with camping, Legos, robotics and computers, arts, sports, nature, and horses. Check out my resource page for my favorite Bay Area social skills camp choices or search online for activities your child will enjoy.
photo credit: Johan Jönsson via Wikimedia Commons
There is a new support group forming in Walnut Creek, CA for parents of Middle and High School age kids with Asperger's or Autism Spectrum Disorders. The first meeting is October 9, 2013, at 7 pm, at John Muir Hospital. See the flyer below for more information.
I just got this notice, and I'm really excited that this is available to local families:
We are pleased to announce a new CHADD Parent Support Group in Walnut Creek, beginning this month. Let's start off the new school year with tips and tools to help your child be successful.
Parent Support Group (drop-in). The purpose of our group is to develop and foster positive skills for parents of children with ADHD.
2nd Wednesday of every month from 6:30 - 8:00pm; next meeting is Sept. 11th
Kaiser Mental Health Bldg., 710 S. Broadway, Walnut Creek (the bldg. next to Safeway on the corner of Mt. Diablo Blvd.)
Sherry Chase, Ph.D., Coordinator - 510-433-9448 - firstname.lastname@example.org
CHADD meetings are open to the public and free to CHADD members. A $5 donation is suggested of non-members, but no one is turned away for lack of funds. Become a CHADD member here and enjoy all the benefits of CHADD membership. Visit CHADD.org for more information about ADHD. Enjoy a $10 discount if you join or renew by 9/30/13 (promo code: chadd10off).
Both Alameda and Contra Costa Counties present annual transition fairs, designed to bring together young adults with special needs with the venders and agencies who can help them transtion to adult living situations and employment. Because the fairs only occur once a year, I encourage teens, young adults and their parents to attend these events early, so they can start learning about the services available.
Alameda is holding their 2013 Transition Fair this year on March 16. You can find more information on their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/events/411555572244926/.
I just got a notice of a stage show on parenting an autistic child presented next week at the Dean Lesher Center in Walnut Creek. I haven't seen the show, but it has good online reviews. The show, A Real Man is October 26, 2012, at 8:15 pm.
Get more info at http://www.lesherartscenter.org/
There’s been a lot of discussion in the media lately about the long term employment prospects for special needs adults, after a study was published earlier this month in Pediatrics, so it’s very timely that the Berkeley College Internship Program is offering a free panel discussion.
The event, Thinking Positive About the Future: Insights into College, Independence and Employment For Young Adults with Asperger’s, ADHD and Other Learning Differences, will be held on Wednesday, June 27, 2012, from 5 to 7:30 pm.
From the flier: “Parents and Professionals are invited to join us for an informative evening event at CIP Berkeley's newly expanded location in downtown Berkeley, CA. The event will include presentations by several guest speakers who work with the ASD and LD community; offering advice on the key stages of transition to adulthood including: letting go, adjusting to college, finding success in the workplace, and achieving independence.”
The event is free, but space is limited, so reserve in advance.
Finding support for adults on the autism spectrum can be especially difficult. Once students leave high school, many of the formal and informal support options are no longer available. Without the structure of school, and with difficulty in finding appropriate post high school education or employment, many individuals struggle to remain connected and productive.
One valuable resource is the Transition Options Program, (TOPS) from Mount Diablo Adult Education. I’ll draw directly from their flier:
The Transition Options Program (TOPS) addresses the unique needs of adults with Asperger’s Syndrome, High Functioning Autism and related disorders transitioning to higher education, independent living and/or employment. The goal of the program is to provide education and support to enable students to be successful in work, home and the community.
The program is uniquely designed to address the individual needs of participants as they select their class schedule based on the following four core areas of instruction: Social Skills/Cognitive Development; Employability/College Readiness; Independent Living Skills; Community Access & Resources.
TOPS provides a supportive environment for students to develop social skills, increase independence, develop interests, explore resources, participate in the community, and create a social network of support while preparing for work, independent living and/or higher education.
For more information on the program, contact Karen Lingenfelter-Carman, Adults with Disabilities Program Coordinator at (925) 685-7340 ext. #2742 or e-mail email@example.com
The transition to adulthood is probably the most uncertain stage in the life of a special needs individual. There are support services and a fairly well defined path available for children and teens, but after high school many young adults flounder. In this post, and my next, I’ll be discussing several good programs to assist in transition planning.
Orion Academy, along with JFK University, is offering their 6th annual ASD Transitions Seminar. The seminar will be held at JFK University, in Pleasant Hill, CA, on Saturday, March 10, 2012, from 10 am to 4 pm. There will be a number of speakers, on various topics of interest to parents of transitioning or soon to transitioning teens, as well as vendors and exhibitors. You can register or get more information at the JFK website. Space is limited!
Aascend, the Autism, Asperger's Syndrome Network Coalition for Education, Networking and Development, is sponsoring their Success on the Spectrum Conference in San Francisco on October 15, 2011. This event is aimed at adults on the autism spectrum, and will feature discussions about relationships, employment options and transitioning issues.
The keynote speaker is Ari Ne'eman, president and co-founder of ASAN, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, as well as a member of President Obama's Council on Disability. There will also be a preview of the film Too Sane For This World, featuring adults on the spectrum. For information on the conference, please visit the Aascend website.
Patricia Robinson MFT
I'm a licensed therapist in Danville, California and a coach for Asperger's and ADHD nationwide. I work with individuals of all ages who have special needs, like Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADD, ADHD, and the family members and partners of special needs individuals.