We offer a variety of programs and services designed to help support the development of social skills and new friendships:
- Social skills groups
- Social skills groups for children with ASD
- Joint play sessions
- School holiday programs
- In-school social support ( “school shadowing”)
Please contact our Centre for further details about or to register your interest in our social skills programs.
Referrals are not required to access this support. However, you may wish to consider whether you are entitled to rebates or benefits from government programs or private health insurers to offset your expenses.
Social skills groups
These groups are designed to teach group members to work together towards a common goal (that is a project or a set activity). Skills are practiced under the guidance of an experienced Psychologist. Skills covered include conversation skills, joining in play, developing and maintaining friendships. These groups are run on demand provided sufficient interest.
Social skills groups for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
These groups are designed to teach group members to work together towards a common goal (that is a project or a set activity). Skills are practiced under the guidance of an experienced Psychologist. Children are matched according to their level of support needs. Skills covered include greeting skills, turn taking, conversation skills, initiating and joining in play, developing and maintaining friendships. These groups are run on demand provided sufficient interest.
Joint play sessions
The ability to engage with their peers in social interaction and play is a key challenge for some children with special needs. Play and social skills learned with an adult therapist may not easily generalise to situations involving other children. To address these issues, Annie’s Centre can offer joint Behaviour Therapy or Psychology play sessions. In these sessions, therapists facilitate a structured “playdate” for two clients, providing an opportunity for social and co-operative play skills to be taught and practiced in a supported environment. We match clients based on their age and the level of support they need, to ensure that each child is able to develop their skills with a play partner appropriate to them. Skills targeted in these sessions may include:
- Initiating activities
- Taking turns
- Negotiating and following rules
- Asking and answering social questions
- Respecting personal space
- Initiating conversation
- Developing independence in peer interactions
Joint sessions are organised on an individual basis, depending on the availability of an appropriate play partner. Depending on the needs of the children attending, the session may be run by one or two therapists, with the total cost divided equally between the families involved. If you are not already accessing services at Annie’s Centre, an initial consultation with one of our Psychologists will be required to ensure that any therapy sessions target skills appropriate to your child.
School holiday programs
Annie’s Centre runs holiday programs during the NSW school holiday periods. We organise excursions (e.g., bowling, putt putt golf, pottery, cooking) to assist children in further developing and generalising their social skills. We run up to three excursions spread across each holiday period.
The program aims to:
- Create a great opportunity for children to meet new friends.
- Extend skills they have learnt in familiar environments (e.g., at home, at Annie’s Centre, at school) to public spaces.
- Build confidence in interacting with peers.
- Develop independence in social situations.
- Have fun!
In-School Support (aka “School Shadowing”)
School based services include:
- Social skills support – e.g., shadowing and coaching in the playground, on excursions, school sports.
- In class behaviour and academic support- e.g., shadowing and coaching.
- Consultation with teachers and staff-e.g., program development and making recommendations for learning support strategies.
- Developing learning support or social skills programs for implementation in the classroom or on the playground.
Our clinicians are experienced in working closely with teachers, learning/pastoral support and school leadership to extend your child’s in-clinic work and/or make recommendations for additional support needs in the school environment. When school and learning are the key areas of concern, we recommend a school observation to obtain additional information about how your child is functioning in the school environment (socially, behaviourally and academically) and their ability to make use of any existing school-based strategies. The aim of any school shadowing or coaching sessions that might be offered is to provide discrete assistance to facilitate integration of skills into the class and school community and to develop the individual’s confidence and independence.