We help neurodiverse kids and teens become socially competent, confident, and connected so they can create and maintain the reputation and relationships they choose!
If you want your child or teen to have more friends, be more cognitively flexible, have more successful social interactions, and feel more comfortable in social situations WITHOUT sticker charts, discipline strategies, scripted responses, or just waiting for them to 'outgrow' it, welcome to Starfish Social Club!
-Steph West, Founder and DirectorClick here to learn more about our team!
Our 'Be You. Be Strong. Belong.' philosophy
Most programs rely on artificial rewards and incentives. They attempt to 'normalize' students.
Artificial rewards teach students to do things in the presence of a tangible outcome. They also teach that there is a 'right' and 'wrong' way to do things.
This can lead to students changing their behavior based on who's watching and what incentive is available. It can also lead to increased anxiety over what's 'good' or 'bad'.
Additionally, using artificial incentives also decreases the chances of students using the things they have learned if no adult is around to provide an incentive.
When kids receive artificial rewards, they have a diminished awareness of how others perceive them outside of the person in charge of the reward.
Thus they do not develop social awareness when artificial rewards are part of the learning process.
Social awareness is developed when kids learn to assess the outcome to determine the success of their choice. When peers are the ones who provide the reward in the form of feedback, students learn how to use this information to guide their choices.
We don't use treasure boxes, sticker charts, or any other artificial reward systems at Starfish Social Club. Our students are encouraged to come as they are and use what they choose! The students learn to recognize the natural social reward in how their peers react to their choices as a guide.
Most programs rely on teaching discrete social skills in isolation. Drill and practice.
Teaching discrete skills can actually cause MORE social challenges.
Like our student who was taught to say, "Hi, how are you?" to everyone, but wasn't taught how to respond to their answer.
Or our student who was taught to say hello to people when he sees them, so he would interrupt class to say hello if someone walked in.
Or our student who was taught to apologize so he interrupts the class to apologize and demand forgiveness any time he receives feedback.
Teaching discrete skills makes it harder for kids to generalize!
What's appropriate or even acceptable in one environment may be inappropriate or even unacceptable somewhere else or with someone else.
Schools and families spend lots of money on canned programs.
I used to do it, too!
Until I realized our students don't need discrete skills, they need social awareness!
Social awareness is the ability to consider the perspectives of other individuals, groups, or communities, and apply that understanding to interactions with them.
It requires the development of cognitive flexibility and problem-solving skills. It requires noticing things in your environment and acting upon what you notice.
When students learn how to be more socially aware, they are able to predict, engage in, and respond to social situations instead of just reacting or defaulting to canned behaviors.
Most programs don't offer an opportunity for students to practice in authentic situations with similar peers.
The lack of opportunity for practice makes it difficult for students to retain what they have learned!
Traditional therapy settings, 1/1 services in school, and even structured pull-out programs typically don't have the ability or the opportunity to provide students with authentic, facilitated peer engagement.
Without practice and social feedback, students are much more likely to revert back to what they were doing before.
Students with social learning challenges tend to get two types of feedback from neurotypical peers:
1) No feedback
2) Negative feedback (ignoring, walking away, rude comments)
Neither of those help the student learn what they are doing to cause this outcome.
Without social feedback from people who matter, our students can't learn how to get what they want appropriately.
Students need feedback from their peers in order to become more self-aware and make different decisions, which lead to different outcomes!
We teach all our students to give feedback to and receive feedback from each other. This allows them to support their peers in the learning process and gives all students a better understanding of how their choices affect others, which affects their reputation!
THE RIGHT PROGRAM DOESN'T JUST IMPROVE YOUR CHILD OR TEEN'S SOCIAL SKILLS, IT ALSO HELPS THEM BECOME MORE:
so they are able to create the outcomes they choose!
Thoughtful of Others
so they are able to take the wants and needs of others into consideration!
so they are able to handle doing things differently!
so they are able to determine how to solve problems more effectively!
Able to Give Feedback
to and receive feedback from peers and adults so they can create the reputation they want!
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