Our kids aren't wired to naturally
pick up social skills.
They have to be taught!
If you want your child to have more friends, be more flexible, have more successful interactions, and feel more comfortable in social situations WITHOUT sticker charts, discipline strategies, scripted responses, or just waiting for them to 'outgrow' it, we are so glad you are here! That's exactly what we want, too!
Social interactions are a lot of work!
Especially for kids and teens who struggle with social skills due to autism, ADHD, or just because!
If you're like most parents we support through Starfish Social Club, you've tried therapies, 1/1 services, online resources...
...and you still haven't seen the social improvement you hoped for.
The reason for this is pretty simple:
When kids and teens struggle to understand the social world around them...
THIS CAN'T BE TAUGHT THROUGH WORKSHEETS, CONTRIVED SOCIAL INTERACTIONS, OR EVEN EXPOSURE TO 'TYPICAL' KIDS!
THE #1 MISSING INGREDIENT WHEN IT COMES TO MOST PROGRAMS:
Most programs rely on canned lessons teaching discrete social skills!
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.
THE #2 MISSING INGREDIENT WHEN IT COMES TO MOST PROGRAMS:
Most programs don't offer an opportunity for students to practice in authentic situations with 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.
Most programs have no opportunities for practice, or contrived opportunities.
WITHOUT SOCIAL FEEDBACK, KIDS DON'T LEARN HOW TO GET WHAT THEY WANT APPROPRIATELY!
Students with social learning challenges tend to get two types of feedback from their 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.
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 and receive feedback. 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 #3 MISSING INGREDIENT WHEN IT COMES TO MOST PROGRAMS:
MOST PROGRAMS RELY ON ARTIFICIAL REWARDS AND INCENTIVES.
Artificial rewards teach students to do things in the presence of a tangible outcome.
This can lead to students changing their behavior based on who's watching and what incentive is available.
It also decreases the chances of them using the things they have learned if no adult is around to provide an incentive.
RELIANCE ON ARTIFICIAL REWARDS AND INCENTIVES CAUSES STUDENTS TO LOOK FOR OUTSIDE VALIDATION INSTEAD OF LOOKING TO THE ACTUAL OUTCOME OF THE SITUATION!
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. The students learn to recognize the natural social reward in how their peers react to their choices as a guide.
THE RIGHT PROGRAM DOESN'T JUST IMPROVE YOUR CHILD'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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