Social Skills Groups - 2016

There are currently four social skills groups running for the 2016 semester. There is a minimum of 4 students and a maximum of 10 students for each group; attendance fluctuates every 5-week period but is within these boundaries. All groups run for a total of a 5-week commitment. Parent conferences are held three times per year during the groups to work on child goals, parent carry-over, and to address parent priorities for their child. Clients in these groups are at or very close to the conversational verbal level; each child is able to ask questions, answer questions, make comments, offer suggestions, and has the self-regulation abilities to have calm behavior throughout the group. Each child varies slightly in their verbal abilities and personal challenges. Each group meets for a 1.5 hour session each week; the cost for each group is $195 for the 5-week session or $55 per class. For more information, please contact Dr. Deirdre Walker Abernathy at 314.479.8083 or

Executive Functioning Group (5-7 and 7-9 age group)

These groups for 5-7 and 7-9 year old children focus on teaching executive functioning skills including conversational turn taking, planning, organization, and relational reciprocity. Children in this group are working on conversational pauses and learning when to contribute and when to listen in conversation. Another major goal is building patience and raising their hand while reducing blurting or speaking out of turn. Children in this group are also working on sensory regulation while participating in group activities. For example, we are working on recognizing appropriate times to move our bodies and strategies for sitting still during instruction. Children learn through direct instruction, dyads, and whole group instruction as well as game-playing and friendship-building activities. Children in this group have fully developed language abilities or are very close to this level but are working on refining and fine-tuning pragmatics and social skills.

Playgroup (9-11 age group)

This group focuses on forming friendships, beginning and maintaining conversations, incorporating eye contact while speaking, cooperation on partner projects, and contributing verbally to partner-focused, small group, and whole group conversations and activities. This group incorporates Superflex strategies where many classes involve identifying and overcoming personal "unthinkables" (the villains in the Superflex curriculum) by learning self-awareness, body awareness, generalizing language to partner work and group activities, waiting and taking turns, using appropriate intonation and volume for partner activities and small and large group activities. Children in this group are working on actively building language beyond the phrase and sentence utterance level and developing flexibility in language and behavior.

Girls' Club (10-12 age group)

The girls' club social group is for girls at the conversational verbal level and at or close to grade level for academics who are working on building friendships. Children in this group are working on pragmatics, social skills, and executive functioning skills in the context of friendship-building skills. Girls in this group are learning how to establish and maintain friendships and are working on building conversational and relational reciprocity. Children in this group are working on self-awareness, self-advocacy, and how to advocate for a friend. Girls in this group are working on starting, maintaining, and closing a conversation as well as identifying what makes someone a good friend. We are also working on developing interests as well as understanding what is interesting to other children in the group.

Boys' Club (12-14 age group)

The boys' club social group is for boys at the conversational verbal level who are working on pragmatics and social skills. Boys in this group are working on how to initiate, maintain, and end a conversation as well as how to segue from a greeting into a conversation. Children in this group are working on when to contribute to a group discussion versus when to listen and wait for their turn to participate. We are also working on self-awareness, self-advocacy, and building and maintaining friendships. Boys in this group are working on interspersing eye contact during a conversation and how to use figurative language and small talk. Another goal for children in this group is to understand and modify a message through intonation and body language.

What can you expect from each group:

  • Group structure with partner focus and small group interactions
  • The groups are focused on building friendships
  • The children develop interests in each other and learn what's interesting to other people
  • We focus on further developing conversation skills
  • Parent network and support system
  • The children learn to feel comfortable interacting with same-age peers
  • The children go to each other's birthday parties
  • Each child gets the opportunity to practice the social skills of being a host and being a guest
  • The children learn to share ideas and learn collaboratively
  • We focus on integrating body language, emotional understanding, eye contact, intonation, message content, and how the message is received by others

How do I find out if my child is the right fit for a group?

Please contact the group supervisor, Dr. Deirdre Walker Abernathy at 314-479-8083. She will answer basic questions for you about fit. From that point, if Dr. Abernathy and you believe your child would benefit and be a good fit for the group, the social skills instructor, therapist Lindsey Holtsman, will contact you to come meet your child and conduct a brief interview. From this point, if the fit is determined to be a good one, the child is invited to come attend the group for a trial session. The reason for the trial is because we strive for excellence; we really want to focus on forming close friendships and not just filling spots in the group.

How does payment work?

All groups are private pay; unfortunately we do not accept insurance reimbursement and do not have the capacity to bill insurance. Payment is due at the first date of each 5-week session. You will receive an emailed invoice for every group and we accept payment in the form of personal check, cashier's check, or bank-issued checks. Please note there is a $30 returned check fee for any check returned due.

What is the cost for the groups?

Please note there is no pro-rating or reimbursement of funds for missed sessions. Each group is run by a senior ABA therapist with over 6 years of experience and is supervised by Dr. Abernathy. Please note that fees for groups are non-refundable and we ask that you provide payment at the first session for that group. We put lots of time and work into planning the curriculum and number of assistants for each session, so if you plan to be able to attend 4 groups but can only make 2 we are not able to issue refunds. The current cost for each group is $195 for a 5-group session or $50 per each session.

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