Starfish Social Club Fostering fun, friendships, and flexible brains in unique learners!

August Student Spotlight

Eli


Eli is a 12-year-old student who is getting ready to start 6th grade. He is diagnosed with autism and a speech impairment. His speech impairment affects his self confidence. He also struggles with tasks that require strength, self-awareness, and comprehension. Eli has an amazing memory for facts. He can tell you details of anything he is interested in, down to the smallest detail. He is also very good at doing math in his head. Eli has a good sense of humor and likes to tell jokes and funny stories. He is also creative and has a great imagination.

Eli has been a Starfish student for a little over a year. He has made significant progress in his general group behaviors, his ability to engage in reciprocal conversations, and his willingness to try things that are new/different. Eli wants to be an actor and is supported in everything he does by his mom and dad. Family feedback: Eli has learned how to talk to peers in a group setting and how to listen to the input his peers are giving. He has also learned to be more patient with others and how to work in a group with a good attitude. He has worked very hard on improving himself over the last year and we are very proud of him!

Oscar


Oscar is a 14-year-old student who is about to start 9th grade. He is diagnosed with autism. Oscar thinks differently and is not afraid to act differently, which can be a challenge for him in a social setting. He also struggles with understanding the perspectives of others. Oscar has a strong sense of who he is and is comfortable asserting himself. He has a great imagination as well as a very unique, intelligent sense of humor. He enjoys engaging with others and challenging himself.


Oscar has been a Starfish student for a little over a year. He has made significant progress in his ability to understand the perspectives of others, to try things that are new/different, and to express himself when he feels frustrated/overwhelmed. Oscar is supported by his parents, stepparents, and extended family. When asked, Oscar stated that he has no future aspirations at the moment and is quite content. Family feedback: Starfish has helped Oscar with anxiety and increased his tolerance level for social situations. Starfish has expanded his communication skills and flexibility.

July Student Spotlight

Hank
Hank is an almost-13-year-old student diagnosed with autism. He is homeschooled and just completed 7th grade. Hank struggles with understanding the perspectives of others which makes reciprocal conversations and peer interactions more challenging. He also struggles with impulsivity and focus.

Hank has an amazing memory. He is a very concrete thinker but also has a great imagination. He cares very much about his family and friends and is genuinely interested in his peers. He always greets his groupmates and often remembers if someone has been sick or absent and will ask them how they are.

Hank enjoys playing video games, drawing and swimming. He is supported by his mom, dad, and grandparents. He expresses interest in possibly being a firefighter, doctor, or lawyer. Hank has been a Starfish student for a year. He has made a lot of progress in his ability to think about others and see things from another perspective. Family feedback: Interaction with kids his own age with similar challenges makes for a good learning environment. Hank found an environment that accepts him and shapes him into a promising mature youth. Through Starfish, Hank has made friends and learned a few life lessons that will guide him in the future. We are very happy we found Starfish!

Ethan
Ethan is a 7-year-old student who will be entering 2nd grade in August. He is diagnosed with social anxiety. Ethan's anxiety can cause him to become disengaged and not interact with peers in social situations.

Ethan has a great memory and is often very aware of things in his environment. He will often comment on things he sees, hears, notices. He is a great speller and reader. Ethan has been a Starfish student for a year. His communication and interaction skills have improved significantly, as has his comfort level with peers.

Ethan is supported by his mom, dad, and baby sister Layla. Family feedback: We’ve seen Ethan blossom since attending Starfish Social Club. He has opened up more at school and has become more vocal than in the past. He enjoys his time at Starfish and we love that!

June Student Spotlight

Jaeger


Jaeger is a 14-year-old student transitioning to high school next year. He is diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. He struggles with flexible thinking, appropriate humor, and understanding how to talk to different people.


Jaeger is often incredibly cheerful and doesn't get bothered by social pressures. He loves to share jokes and be silly with his groupmates. He often goes out of his way to be helpful to peers who are having a difficult day. Jaeger has a very analytical brain and excels at problem-solving games.


Jaeger has been a Starfish student for about a year. He has made significant progress with flexible thinking, emotional regulation, and conversation skills. He enjoys math and playing in a Dungeons and Dragons group. He would like to be a computer programmer and is supported in this and all his goals by his mom. Family feedback: Starfish has helped Jaeger learn new methods of interacting with others. He is starting to initiate conversations with others.

Gabriella


Gabby is a 28-year-old student who has been employed at the same place for the last 10+ years! She is diagnosed with Rubenstein Taybies Syndrome. Gabby is challenged with high anxieties. She worries about just about everything from being late to making friends. She takes everything very literally and doesn't like people joking/teasing her. She has a hard time making friends and carries her anime books as a comfort/safety net. If she becomes scared or confused she will get upset and may meltdown, shut down or cry. This can sometimes be mistaken for her being defiant, but it is her safety control/release as she doesn't know how to deal with the situation at hand. 


Gabby likes to be prompt and on time for everything. She is a very hard worker and has received compliments at McDonald's from customers and co-workers alike. She likes schedules and works best when she knows what is expected of her. It may take her a few times to understand a job skill but once she has learned it, she will do it. Gabby loves joking with her classmates and is easily amused. She has an infectious laugh! 

Gabby has been a Starfish student for over a year. She has made significant progress with emotional regulation and conversation skills. She would like to work with animals or at Hot Topic. She also wants to travel and go on a cruise. Gabby is supported by her parents, sisters, and brother. Family feedback: Starfish has helped Gabby develop relationships with other individuals and she has made friends. She has learned life skills that will help her navigate in social and work settings. She is learning to be a little more outgoing and how to develop relationships. 

May Student Spotlight

Diego


Diego is a 12-year-old student in 5th grade at Hawthorne Academy. He is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, which makes it difficult for him to pick up on social cues. He also engages in self-stimulatory behaviors that are difficult for him to control.


Diego has a good memory and a good sense of direction. He loves people, and is usually the first one to say hello to the group each week and to greet new peers. He likes to ask other students questions and enjoys chatting about his interests, which include his Nintendo Switch, videos on his iPad, movies, and restaurants. 


Diego has been a Starfish student for about a year. He has made a lot of progress with his ability to keep conversations on topic, gain the attention of others, and give feedback to his peers. He frequently mentions that he will be in the middle school group next year! Feedback from mom and dad: Diego talks about how others might feel and we discuss different choices for various social situations. He asks us how we feel and will tell us what he thinks our facial expressions mean.

Wrigley


Wrigley is a 14-year-old 8th grader at Bradley Middle School. She is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and a speech impairment. Wrigley has a hard time connecting with others if they don’t share the exact same interest. She wants friends but doesn’t know how to go about initiating a friendship. 


Wrigley is very kind and loving, and she is an amazing artist. She loves learning the names of other students, even if they aren't in her group. She always says hello and goodbye to everyone by name. Recently she has been asking about some of the kids who come to camp because she hasn't seen them in so long! 


Wrigley has been a Starfish student for almost a year. She has made significant progress with flexible thinking, emotional regulation, and conversation skills. She wants to become an artist and is supported by her mom, Tracey, her dad, Dennis, and her older brother, Zenin. Family feedback: Wrigley has leaned a variety of social skills within the months she has been here. Turn-taking, conversation skills and (most importantly) flexible thinking- when she can learn to adjust to something new or non-routine ! We love Starfish Camp!

April Student Spotlight

Eva


Eva is a 7-year-old 2nd grade student diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Eva has struggled with communication all her life. When she was younger, her sentences had poor structure and were difficult to understand. She also struggles with reading social cues, particularly with peers. Eva has an incredible memory. She's able to recall facts, dates, names, etc, with flawless accuracy. She learned to read at a very young age and her memory makes her an excellent speller.


Eva's favorite class is language arts, and she enjoys swimming. She is supported by her mom, dad, and younger brother. Eva has been a Starfish student for over a year. She has made significant progress in her conversational skills and her ability to think flexibly in the group. She is very outgoing and has a bubbly personality. 


Parent feedback: Eva has always been a social and outgoing kid. We have noticed that her ability to play with her brother and other kids in the community has increased. We find that we now rarely have to step in to explain the rules and expectations of a spontaneous game. We are very pleased with her progress and look forward to seeing her grow with all her friends at Starfish.

Nate


Nate is a 20-year-old student at North East Transition Services (NETS), where he works on employment and life skills. He is diagnosed with an intellectual disability and ADHD. Nate struggles to communicate his wants and needs with others and to engage in social conversations with peers. Nate is great at keeping a schedule, and keeps his family on track! He is very detail-oriented and recognizes when something is new or different. He has a very flexible brain and is quite adaptable to new and different situations. 


Nate enjoys his cooking class the most, and really likes going to church with his family on Sundays. Nate is supported by his mom (Jamie), dad (Dave), his sister (Cassie) who attends college, and Sienna, the family dog. Nate has been a Starfish student for about a year. He has made a lot of progress in his ability to interact socially with peers and requests to attend weekend activities with Starfish, most notably like game nights. Parent feedback: Starfish has helped Nate be more outgoing and talk to peers, family and friends.


March Student Spotlight

Joel


Joel is an 8-year-old 2nd grader. He is diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), partial deafness, and anxiety. FAS affects all areas of Joel’s life; social, emotional and academic. It makes it hard for him to remember things he has learned, to pick up on social cues and build friendships, and to feel comfortable in new situations. Joel is very creative and has a great imagination. He is funny and likes to make others laugh. He has a huge heart and is friendly and loving.

Joel has been a Starfish student for over a year. He has made significant progress in his ability to think about others and to see things from someone else's perspective. He is also learning to see peers as friends instead of competition, which helps him build relationship skills. He loves story time and game time!

Joel is supported by his mom and his three big sisters. He hopes to be a treasure hunter or maybe a king some day. From mom: Joel is a great kid. He has brought so much joy to our life. He has given us a different way to see the world. Starfish Social Club has given him a place of his own; something that is just his.

Joseph


Joseph is 13 and is diagnosed with autism and ADHD. He is homeschooled and works on a 6th grade level in everything except math, which he does at an 8th grade level. Joseph is a very logical thinker and sometimes struggles when things are 'grey'. He sometimes finds it hard not to argue. He is a very creative and logical thinker. His abilities give him a great advantage in strategic games, as he can usually figure out a way to win! 


Joseph has been a Starfish student for a year. He has made significant progress in his ability to be flexible and his conversation skills. He is able to consider the wants/needs of others much more easily and is willing and able to engage in conversations with peers, which was difficult for him at first. 


Joseph is supported by his parents and his sister, Rosalie. He would like to be a video game designer, a mathematician, or an author when he is older. Starfish Social Club has helped him practice and improve his social skills in a safe, supportive environment.

February Student Spotlight

Zac


Zac is a 20-year-old college freshman at San Antonio College. He has Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, and anxiety and mood disorders. He struggles with all things relating to executive functioning - planning, time management, initiating and completing projects, homework, etc. Zachary has a joyful enthusiasm and sense of humor that are quickly contagious. He loves being 'the host with the most' and the center of attention - wanting everyone to join in the fun. Zachary uses the distractedness that comes with ADHD to manage the volatility of his emotions, often watching videos to calm him when he is emotional. He also loves a good play on words, and rolling his eyes at puns and terrible jokes. He wants to be the world's best accountant, and possibly a comedian on the side!


Zac has been a Starfish student for almost 2 years. He has volunteered with our younger students at summer camp and he is a great leader in our adult group, always making an effort to engage students who are less outgoing. He has made a lot of progress with his ability to be flexible and understanding the perspective of others.


Zachary's thoughts about Starfish Social Club - I've made good friends and it is fun in many ways. I feel like I have Ms. Stephanie who I can talk to when something important happens and I feel down.
From Mom & Dad - We love that Zac has made friends in a safe space that are going through the same things he is as a young adult with special needs learning to find his place in the world around him. It meant the world to us when he was feeling emotional about his grandfather passing away, that of all the people he had to talk to, he reached out on his own to Ms. Stephanie. We've seen our son grow in great ways as the group grows, and count on him continuing to stay with this awesome group of young adults led by Ms. Stephanie!

Bruno


Bruno is a 13-year-old student in 7th grade. He has autism and ADHD. Bruno struggles with communicating effectively and making connections with peers his age. He is very friendly and helpful toward both adults and students. He also has a great memory and strong attention to detail. He can’t wait to get his drivers license and would like to make robots to help him clean his room!


Bruno has been a Starfish student for over a year. He has made significant progress in his ability to keep his brain in the group and follow the group plan. He is doing really well with learning to keep thoughts and scripts in his brain. He attends lots of extra activities with Starfish Social Club, like tween nights at the YMCA, game nights, and Lego building at the Botanical Gardens.


Family feedback: Bruno loves going to Starfish and looks forward to meeting with his group every week. He has grown emotionally and socially. He is able to communicate better with us and has made connections with other kids in school. He is becoming more confident and able to make conversations with other kids.


January Student Spotlight

Tariq
Tariq is a 13-year-old student in 8th grade at JSTEM Academy. He has been diagnosed with autism, ADHD, dysgraphia, and anxiety. He struggles with social skills, executive functioning skills, perspective-taking, and organization. Tariq excels in math, has a great sense of humor, and knows a lot about video games, including the year each version of each game system was introduced! He had the opportunity to be a manager for his school's basketball team last year. He hopes to become a computer engineer and is supported by his mom, Taqwa, as well as his older siblings Idris, Atiyah, and Siddiqah.
Tariq has been a Starfish student for almost 2 years and has made huge progress related to perspective-taking, flexible thinking and emotional regulation. He loves game time and prefers to play games that are mentally challenging. He also attends many outside activities with Starfish Social Club, like LEGO building, preteen night at YMCA, and Altitude Trampoline Park.


Noah
Noah is a 9-year-old 3rd grader. He struggles with making friends, asking for help, perspective-taking, and participating in group activities with same-age peers. Noah is very outgoing with adults and peers with whom he is familiar. He enjoys helping teachers and peers and is empathetic towards others. Noah loves visiting the ocean and the aquarium. He helped make Christmas cookies for the first time recently! He has mentioned wanting to be a veterinarian and a pilot and has recently shown an interest in large vehicles. Noah is supported by his mom and dad, gramma and her pup, as well as extended family in New Mexico and Minnesota.
Noah has been a Starfish student for a year and a half and has made significant progress with expected behaviors, perspective-taking, and group behaviors. This has allowed him to have play dates with other Starfish students as well as increased his ability to participate in school activities. When asked what he likes most about Starfish Social Club, he stated he likes playing games and that Ms. Stephanie is always there to take care of him! Noah also attends many outside activities with Starfish Social Club, like the DoSeum, the San Antonio Zoo, and Hemisfair Park.