Social Discovery is about creating a safe place where youth can be themselves and feel accepted while working on developing the ability to form and maintain connections with others.
Although each individual session has specific outcomes for that day, our larger outcomes are related to enhancing (1) the sharing of thoughts and feelings, (2) problem-solving, (3) self-regulation, and (4) supporting others. Each activity we select gives youth an opportunity to practice these skills.
who is this for?
Social Discovery was developed for middle school students diagnosed with ASD who don't have an intellectual disability. It's been adapted for high school students and been successful with adolescents who don't speak as well as adolescents who aren't diagnosed with ASD but who want support making friends. The key to a good group is having at least one good match for each participant, so it's tricky if you have one girl or one high school student. Because our group creates a space for acceptance, almost anyone can be a accommodated.
Our groups usually take place after school in community settings. There is small group processing time and large group activities. Each week we focus on a salient concept like ...
- Managing strong emotions
- Problem solving
The activities that week reinforce these concepts in active ways. The groups typically last an hour and run for at least eight weeks. Parents are asked to stay and meet during the sessions. Recurring enrollment in encouraged. Social Discovery is appropriate for 6 to 10 participants. There need to be at least two facilitators and one of the facilitators should be a skilled practioner.
There are two special sessions in each class: cooking and party. The cooking class is the second to last session of Social Discovery. Participants complete a recipe with a partner with no (or little) adult facilitator support. This shows the youth that they don't need adults to make friends. The party takes place in the community. We usually suggest bowling, but the kids plan the party. Each week we plan one element of the party which gives us a chance to practice our conflict resolution skills.