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DC Peers is working to offer teens and young adults the social experiences and coaching they want.  

Our process is to experiment, to tap the social experiences and expertise of our teenage and young adult volunteers, to build on successful ideas and make them available to more people, and to keep trying new things. In that spirit, we also want to help individuals create what they need if we are not (yet) offering it.  

 

 

Social Club

Our Social Club is a relaxed (and far less expensive) version of PEERS® Plus, designed to give middle- and high-school students the skills and reminders they may need to connect with friends and build their social lives. Both neurotypical and autistic students discuss and practice together the challenges and strategies for meeting new people, finding friends who share your interests, having reciprocal conversations, building friendships, and developing habits that maintain them.

Sessions are 90 minutes of concrete instruction, role-play, and then practice. In between sessions, we have optional monthly social activities, and a little “social homework.” We also keep parents informed about what we’ve done and what their kids could practice, and have monthly parent meetings to discuss.

We are proud of the neurodiversity of our group, which respects the needs and perspectives of both our spectrum teens and our neurotypical teens, and also makes the reasons for the social “rules” we discuss more personal and real. Our “typical” participants gain an understanding of autism (and why, for example, eye contact can be tough), and our spectrum participants gain an understanding of typical social “rules” (and why, for example, people tell them to smile).

Social Club participants who are not ready to do this on a community service basis pay a fee: $400 or pay-what-you-can.

All proceeds are channeled back into DC Peers, to serve our mission of providing affordable, community-based social learning opportunities.

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schedule

Bi-Weekly on Sundays

1-2:30pm

Dates

1/20/19

thru

5/12/19

AGE RANGE

12-16
with exceptions

teens learn how to:

  • Find the right friends who share their interests

  • Initiate and join conversations

  • Join groups

  • Use phones and social media socially

  • Plan/host get-togethers

  • Build relationships and friendships

  • Handle teasing, bullying, and rejection

  • Be fun to be with

 

Neurodiversity Group

Our Neurodiversity Group is for older and/or more self-aware high school students who are ready to deepen their understanding of themselves, others, and the ways in which neurological differences pose challenges in social situations. Most of the participants in this group know and accept their differences and come willing to discuss them and their unique perspectives and experiences.

Our session topics come from participants’ interests, needs, and experiences, from consultation with our Think Tank, from observation, and from research. An example is the subject of “masking,” or camouflaging one’s differences, in order to blend in with neurotypical culture. How specifically do we mask, how is it different for neurotypicals and autistics, what are the pros and cons of masking, and can we use the skill to empower rather than hide ourselves?

In this group, all of the participants get community service hours in exchange for sharing their experiences and perspectives, learning from each other, problem-solving about misunderstandings and awkward moments, coaching each other, learning self-advocacy, and helping us to build a broader awareness of neurodiversity. 

some session topics:   

  • The neurology of your social life

  • Social norms and manners —which ones matter?

  • Your nonverbal messages

  • Masking and being yourself

  • Awkward moments

  • Rejection

  • Parties

  • Being interested and interesting

  • Self-awareness and self-advocacy

  • Talking openly about autism

schedule

Bi-Weekly on Sundays

3-4:30pm

DATES

1/20/19

thru

5/12/19

AGE RANGE

14-18
with exceptions


PEERS® Plus

PEERS® Plus is our enhanced version of UCLA’s PEERS® program, for which we are Certified Providers.  Beyond teaching essential social skills through concrete instruction, practice, and role-play, this 16-week workshop guides participants through the actual initiation and development of friendships with "social homework" assignments.  Parents/caregivers are trained simultaneously to coach and support their teens as they take concrete steps toward building a social life.  My family participated in this program and found that it demystified the habits of teenage social life, and made them accessible.  For motivated teens and young adults, this program is one of the most effective ways of really changing social habits. Because it is weekly and because it involves caregivers as social coaches, this program helps participants build up the momentum and energy it often takes to start socializing more.

We call our program PEERS® Plus because of what we are adding to UCLA's excellent curriculum:

  • Up-to-date insights on high school social life gleaned from our Club Peers participants and our Think Tank (i.e., how to use Instagram!)

  • Improv exercises designed to improve attention and response “muscles”

  • Strategies we have found and created in our neurodiversity clubs and in our Think Tank

  • Relevant concepts from Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking® methodology

  • Our Social Club and Neurodiversity Group, where teens can continue learning, practicing, and developing their social and self-advocacy skills with both "spectrum" and "typical" peers.

We charge $3,000 for PEERS® Plus.  All proceeds from this fee-based program helps us run Club Peers for free and expand our offerings across the District.  If you cannot afford that fee, we will work with you to make it feasible.  Part of the fee may be reimbursed by insurance.   

Because we try to group participants who will work well together, start dates and scheduling of our PEERS Plus programs will depend on several factors, including demand and the ages, profiles, and needs of those who are interested.  

 
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schedule

16 weekly sessions
Tues or Thurs evenings
5:30-7 pm

Starting dateS

Year round, pending enrollment  

Age GROUPS

11-15
15-18
19-25
with exceptions

Skills we cover include:

  • How to start conversations and what to talk about

  • Trading information to find common interests

  • Finding good potential friends

  • Essentials of electronic communication (phone calls, texts, etc.)

  • Planning and having get-togethers

  • Handling humor well

  • Entering and exiting group conversations

  • Joining clubs, crowds, or groups

  • Being a good sport

  • Handling rejection, teasing, and bullying

  • Changing your reputation

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Monthly Social Activities

We have optional, casual monthly activities that are open to all of our program participants and volunteers, past and present, and their friends — if there is space. This Spring’s activities:

January 27th: Pottery Painting, All Fired Up

February 24th: Bowling at Pinstripes

March 24th: Trivia Night

April 14th: Hike and Picnic