We help neurodivergent kids and teens become socially competent, confident, and connected so they can make (and keep) friends!
Hi, I’m Steph!
I originally had the idea for Starfish Social Club after spending more than 15 years working with socially challenged students in the school system as a special education teacher, behavior specialist, and school administrator. The struggles our kids face are difficult to understand and even more difficult to support.
I realized that traditional social skills models and programs expect kids to be more ‘normal’. To be ‘good’. To be more like other kids. It can leave them feeling as if there’s something inherently wrong with who they are and how they show up in the world.
I didn’t want to be part of the reason kids felt like who they are was not okay. So, I decided to do things differently to support kids who think differently.
Welcome to our Club!
Our students tend to fall into one of two categories when we first meet them...
- Reputation for being ‘shy’
- Doesn’t know how to initiate or join conversations with peers
- Spends recess or lunchtime alone or with adults
- Gets along with peers but doesn’t have authentic friends
- Reputation for being annoying
- Often seen as ‘too much’
- Struggles with emotional regulation
- Can integrate into group settings but it doesn’t last long
- Struggles to maintain friendships
At Starfish Social Club, students choose what they want their reputation to be.
Maybe it’s kind. Or smart. Or funny. Or helpful. Or silly. It’s definitely NOT shy. Or annoying. Or weird.
We teach kids self-awareness, which is the key to making and maintaining successful relationships!
It’s not about trying to make other people happy. It's not about trying to ‘fit in’ or mask who we are in order to belong. It’s about creating our own future, our own relationships, and our own identities.
We don’t tell our students what to do or who to be. We support them in being who they are and becoming who they choose to be!
They become socially competent.
Our students learn the skills and strategies needed to create their ideal reputation. They learn what works, as well as what doesn’t! Along the way, they become more of all the things measured on our STARFISH scale: self-aware, thoughtful of others, adaptable, responsible, flexible, independent, solution-seeking, and helpful!
They become socially confident.
Our live weekly lessons are highly interactive and engaging. Students get the opportunity to practice what they are learning in an emotionally safe environment! Our kids are taught and encouraged to give each other feedback so they can see firsthand the kind of reputation they’re creating. If it’s not what they’re intending, they get to practice making different choices. Or not. It’s up to them!
They become socially connected.
Our weekly game time provides the opportunity for authentic practice and engagement as students choose how and with whom to spend their time. Our staff is here to support and facilitate game time, but we don’t dictate! This approach makes for a very authentic social environment. Students form genuine connections with their peers here. We are a pretty large and diverse group, so there’s always someone to relate to!
Choose Your Adventure
You can choose one, two, or all three options!
Get the Foundations
The most important 8 weeks of our program start in August. You can get instant access to those lessons instead of waiting!
We feel like we've finally found someone who knows how to help him. She gives us real tools to work with him cognitively. I wish everyone had access to this!
- Julie, parent of a 6th grader
Check out more student success stories here!