Students have ample opportunity to learn and practice social skills throughout the day while staffed in a 1:1 ratio which allows for individualized progress towards goals, generalization of skills, and meaningful interactions with peers. Social groups are also embedded within student schedules and vary in sizes from 2 to 6 students depending on the activity. Some examples of groups that our students love are science group, book club, current events, group games, morning meeting, and much more.
Speech and Language Groups
The students work on their overall language skills as well as their social goals to generalize skills being taught at their desks. The Speech and Language groups work on increasing interactive leisure skills through games and activities. Groups also target conversations by working to increase nonverbal social cues, conversational exchanges and varying topics as well as working on receptive and expressive language through commenting, following directions in a group, and increasing vocabulary knowledge.
Occupational Therapy Groups
Students work in Occupational Therapy (OT) groups to both generalize the skills that they are learning in discrete trial format and to build upon those skills. The focus of OT groups rotates between an emphasis on visual motor skills, a fine motor craft, a fine motor game, gross motor skills, and writing. Each group consists of a warm-up activity followed by a main activity. Staff use OT groups as a time to work on social skills as well, such as turn-taking, sharing supplies, and commenting.
Students work to increase social skills during mealtimes through directed peer interactions. Student lunches and snacks are divided by student ages and tables are set up to encourage appropriate peer groups. Staff facilitate students to socialize on various topics and ensure that students are engaged in the back and forth of mealtime conversations.
Weather permitting, younger students enjoy the outdoor playgrounds and will engage in games such as tag, catch, follow the leader, Simon Says, and using the playground equipment. Older students have scheduled group times where they will go outside and play basketball or a game of catch.
Science groups are set up to focus on one theme for several weeks so that students are able to gain a thorough understanding of the topic. Students will also complete hands-on activities in a group, and will also work on a variety of social skills within the group such as asking for help, sharing, and following directions. Science topics have included volcanos, planets, animals versus plants, and gravity.
Book clubs give students an opportunity to generalize reading skills in a small group setting. The Special Education teachers determine appropriate books for each group, and students read the book together, and complete an extension activity. Students work on listening, waiting, oral reading, and reading comprehension as a group.
Students attend morning meeting in small groups that are customized to each group. Younger students focus on calendar work, music group and art activities, while working to increase social skills, such as eye contact, following directions, increasing conversational topics, and increasing vocabulary. Older students learn about current events, interests of their peers, and setting schedules.
Students have access to a wide variety of community trips at Hopeful Journeys. Trips include local restaurants, the mall, playgrounds, hiking, the beach, mini-golfing, ceramics, indoor trampoline parks, ice skating, and swimming. Students work on social skills within the community such as asking for help in a store, ordering a meal, making a purchase, and learning how to make small talk in the appropriate situations.