Saturday, 8 October 2011

We are not CURING we are TEACHING!

Everyday Magnificent Minds (Toronto, ON)  students take steps towards success and I become re-inspired by their infinite potential. A child with a generalization-deficit exclaims a phrase that was never explicitly taught; a child makes a genuine learning connection; a new untrained request/utterance is made and... meaningful change has just begun. 
Every day we witness those small steps that make learning possible; we understand how to successfully lay the foundation for learning, at any skill level. Occasionally More often than you'd think, a specific child will surpass his/her goals, and really soar above our expectations. Our kids on the spectrum are in a habit of impressing their teachers; and we're so proud. Raising the bar for our concept of progress and development, my team has created meaningful change in the lives of our kids, and it's directly because of their knowledge, their efforts, and their dedication to principles of Applied Behavioural Analysis. 
Surfing the web I came across this article, linked to the success of social skills interventions for children with Asperger's syndrome; I couldn't help but think nostalgically back to our own  2011 summer program, and consider the impact we had on our young learners. Just like the article reports, our kids are functioning better in a group, individually and exhibiting more verbal behaviour. We knew that our group therapy/learning programs would support generalization, and we have anecdotal/professional and research-based/peer-reviewed proof to support our cause. 
Though our summer intervention only runs between July and August, we remain dedicated to the teaching framework which propels learning and socialization all summer long. 

Our Enriched Group Learning program is rooted in the same basic principles of ABA, play-skill building, and a focus on the coping strategies which enable full participation in the natural environment. The success of the program is rooted in it's ability to propel skill generalization and ensure skill maintenance; this is half the battle for children on the spectrum, making our programs highly effective. Each parent has a unique set of aspirations and goals met, and it's this kind of progress that really inspires and instills hope. Note: We are not CURING children, we are TEACHING coping strategies and generalization skills.

With weekly Friendship Clubs we continue to support the social development of our learners into the fall and winter months; many of our summer camp friends join-us for weekly friendship clubs to continue building on social skills development. Split into two groups based on age (Junior and Senior), our kids develop pre-social skills, or beginner/intermediate social skills needed to thrive within the group dynamic. We teach skills like  conversations, making a phone call, ordering at a restaurant, and asking for more information; we target skills based on comprehensive needs assessments conducted at the beginning of each new academic semester. Our summer program went so well, we couldn't imagine not offering some version of it all year long; it's called Social Skill Sundays at Magnificent Minds, and it's TONS of fun.

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