Thank you for considering my social skills programs for your child. Below are answers to the most frequently asked questions about the programs. I hope the answers will help you decide if my programs, skills and social coaching style are the right fit for your child. I am also always happy to chat with you about your own particular situation on the phone, on Zoom, or by scheduling an in-person visit.
Which children and teens benefit the most from your programs?
In the 22 years since I founded the former Peter Pan Center, I have created a specific niche for children and teens who have mild social skills challenges. While the groups have a wide range of cognitive profiles and learning styles, most participants have little or only mild difficulty accessing the academic curriculum at school. My programs are heavily language-based, so participants must have good receptive and expressive language skills and be able to participate individually and safely in a group of 8 peers. A child must be interested in socializing and making friends for the coaching approach to be effective.
The programs are drop-off and offer purposeful unstructured time using my unique in-the-moment coaching model to replicate the times of day that are the most challenging: recess, lunch, etc. You can think of the programs very much like a socially supported indoor recess or after-school activity as children are coached and guided in their peer interactions. I and my staff are the people that you wish were at every recess, at every school, every day.
What approach(es) do you use?
Every child is an individual and I do not provide a one-size-fits-all approach or follow a specific curriculum. My incidental teaching approach includes a unique in-the-moment social coaching model that provides children with specific social language, tips, and phrases I have developed over time that is easily actionable and easy to generalize. I do have a background or certifications in collaborative problem solving, cognitive-behavioral coaching, and positive psychology.
What do I tell my child or teen he or she is going to be doing?
Some children know that they can use support with successful peer interactions and welcome the opportunity to have a place to do that. If your child is a little more reticent to accepting support, we recommend that you simply tell your child that they will be trying out a new after-school activity and let me and my assistants do the rest!
How do I know how my child is doing?
Your child or teen will likely report when asked each week that they “just played” or “hung out.” That is the answer I want and expect you to hear. I sent out a weekly general group summary that keeps parents updated that highlights the activities we did and the skills that we worked on. If you have specific questions about your child’s progress, please feel free to e-mail, text, or call me to set up a time to chat.
How long before I see improvement in my child’s ability to socialize?
Each child is an individual and the timing is different for each participant in terms of how long it will take before improvements are apparent. Some kids may need just a little social tune-up and others may be in need of support for the long term. Generally, when children meet the guidelines for success, they improve and graduate from the program. It’s difficult to predict how quickly a child will learn and generalize so I am unable to provide a definitive answer for any individual child.
Do all the children or teens have a diagnosis? Will my child learn behaviors that I don’t want him or her to learn?
My goal is to provide the most natural peer setting possible for your child to learn and practice in. The social group program looks like any typical after-school activity but offers an extra layer of social support and teaching. If a child has more pronounced special needs or requires more intensive support around behavior beyond my personal skill set, I am happy to assist any family in locating the right resources for their child.
Are there who do not benefit from your programs?
Just like any program, social coaching is not for everyone. My programs are typically a group of 8 children facilitated by myself, a second adult social coach, and a young adult mentor. I cannot provide 1:1 service to access the program. I would recommend a traditional therapeutic setting with licensed counselors for children or teens who struggle with significant aggression, bolting behaviors, oppositional defiant disorder, or other related disorders that might cause a safety risk for your child, staff, or other participants.
My child pushed someone on the playground – is that what you mean by aggression?
No. I completely understand that sometimes a child or teen will have an isolated incident and mildly and briefly lash out in frustration. The program can show them better ways to handle frustration. If you have any questions about this particular issue, please feel free to contact me to discuss your child’s specific needs.
How do I enroll my child in your programs?
New participants are accepted into our programs on an open enrollment basis when space is available. Please contact me to schedule a time to talk to ensure my programs are a good fit for your child.
What is your professional background?
Please visit the About page.
Are your services covered by insurance?
No, I cannot bill insurance companies for services as I am a coach and not a licensed therapist. I operate very much like a tutor, only I don’t teach math skills, I teach people skills. However, some families have been successful in having services reimbursed through employer Flexible Spending Accounts and others have been able to receive grants through other organizations. I do, however, strive to keep tuition costs fair and in the range of similar tutoring fees.
Do you offer scholarships?
No. I am in private practice as a small for-profit business owner and do not have access to funding for scholarships, pro-bono, or discounted services.
I hope that I have answered many of your questions. If you don’t see the answer to your question here, please feel free to contact me and I am more than happy to speak with you!
From a parent: Coming to your program has positively changed my child’s life more than anything else he has experienced! He has blossomed as a person! He’s developed so many wonderful skills that have made it possible for him to make friends, not just there, but outside of the social group as well. What you are doing there is amazing and so important for families such as mine. I could never say thank you enough! And not just for my son’s sake, but for mine, too. Being a single parent of a child with difficulties with social skills was very overwhelming! I agonized over the pain he felt in daily social situations and often cried myself to sleep over it. As just one person, I wondered how I could ever help him learn to socialize properly, especially being the only person he really had contact with. No matter how much he learned from me, without a natural social situation with his peers to use it in, it was just abstract information to him. As you know, parents who don’t understand what it means to have a kid with social skills issues don’t always want their kids to hang out with those who do, which only compounds the problem. At one point it was hard to even get him to want to leave the house. Having him attend your program has given him so much confidence, improved his self-esteem, and taught him so many important things that most people take for granted. And it not only gave him the knowledge, but it gave him the opportunity to put that knowledge into practice in a safe, positive environment. – K.J.