Social Group Frequently Asked Questions
Copyright 2019. Brighton Center for Pediatric Neurodevelopment. All rights reserved.
How old does my child need to be to participate?
Dr. Bowers provides social groups for children ages 8-11 and 12-16 years. These are chronological age ranges that serve as markers for group placement, but the decision as to which group a child will attend also depends on the developmental age of the child. Thus, a child who recently turned 12 but is still functioning developmentally as a 10- or 11-year-old would be placed in the 8-11 year-old group. We ask that families who have not worked with Dr. Bowers or participated in a group in the past complete a Social Skills Intake form. This allows our staff to make an accurate determination regarding the most appropriate age group for each child.
Doyou have any groups for children younger than 8 years old?
There are rare occasions when a child who is chronologically 7 years old may be a good fit for the group with Dr. Bowers. In general, children younger than 8 years old are not developmentally ready to participate in the group, especially due to the methods that Dr. Bowers uses that involve some degree of reasoning, insight, and self-awareness of one's own social challenges. However, The Brighton Center is offering play-based, smaller social groups to help develop social skills and prepare for preschool and kindergarten (as well as coach parents on how to best engage with a child). If this is of interest to you, please contact us to learn more.
Will my child benefit from this group?
Every child who participates in social group receives some benefit. Obviously, each child's profile plays a role in how much of a benefit is obtained. For example, a child may learn conversational skills, but continue to blurt or have bodily impulse control challenges that interfere with success during conversations. Thus, Dr. Bowers works to assist families to address any emotional or behavioral challenges that may continue to interfere with social growth and development. Further, many children request that their parents enroll them in these groups, while other children remain unsure that they really need something like a social group. Thus, the child's motivation to participate also plays a role as well as the family's and school's ability and willingness to continue to promote the skills obtained during the group work.
Who are the groups for?
The groups with Dr. Bowers are specifically designed for 'quirky' kids ages 8-11 and 12-16 years old. Thus, your child does need to have a specific diagnosis (e.g., Autism, ADHD) in order to participate. Children who are aggressive, nonverbal (or have significant expressive language difficulties such as verbal apraxia), or children who are cognitively delayed would not be a good fit for these groups. Children must be able to regulate themselves, participate safely, and understand the concepts that are being practiced during group sessions (i.e., have at least an Average level of intelligence). Many children attend these groups due to sensory challenges such as aversion to touch or sounds, anxiety, inattention/focus difficulties, and social interactional challenges. The groups are for both boys and girls and are typically comprised of children with well-developed intelligence (IQ) but underdeveloped social and emotional intelligence (EQ). If you are looking for a group for younger children or for speech/communication development, we also offer those and can assist you once you contact us.
How many students attend each group session?
Each group consists of 5-7 members.
What do you teach in these groups?
Perhaps the better question is, "What don't you teach?" Social skills challenges do not occur in isolation. The power of this group approach is achieved because we not simply "zeroing in" on selected "social skills" like eye contact and greetings. We are working to promote social confidence and competence by addressing any challenges that contribute to social difficulties. Examples of challenges that interfere with a child's ability to be social are anxiety, impulsivity, black-and-white or rigid thinking, and emotional reactivity, to name a few. Dr. Bowers uses two models to fully understand a child's profile and most effectively address the challenges and build upon the strengths that the child is demonstrating. These models of addressing social challenges and understanding a quirky child's profile are: The 5 R's and The STRESSED Model. You can learn more about these models by enrolling in a group session or by reading one of Dr. Bowers' books. To learn more about the 5 R's, click here.
How long are the groups?
Group meetings last for one hour per week during the school year and run for 4-5 consecutive weeks for each session (depending on scheduling and time of year). Groups run all year with breaks coinciding with school holidays. Many children participate in these groups throughout the entire year to continue to promote and maintain their social, behavioral, and emotional development.
Is there an opportunity for parents to receive feedback?
Yes. Each weekly group meeting lasts 60 minutes. Parents receive a weekly summary of what happened in group (serving as both a weekly log and also helping parents, who receive the "Fine" or "Good" reply when they ask their child how group was during the car ride home, get a little more information about what actually occurred). The email summary also typically includes areas to potentially target and generalize into the home and school setting. At the conclusion of the 4-5 week session, parents also receive a specific personal student summary of what was observed during group interactions (strengths and challenges) and suggestions for future growth.
Can my child attend more than one group session?
Yes, and in fact this is encouraged. These are process approach groups meaning that the interactions of the group members provide opportunities for Dr. Bowers to coach and teach relevant themes as they naturally play themselves out in the group. Although there are certain areas that are consistently emphasized across group sessions (e.g., conversational skills, behaving in a way that keeps those nearby feeling comfortable with you, initiating conversations), any child who attends multiple sessions is going to benefit from the opportunity to interact with different students who will provide new ways of relating to one another and new scenarios to learn from.
Can I watch my child while he/she is in the group?
Depending on the makeup of a particular group, Dr. Bowers periodically uses video taping as a means of teaching children to monitor their own behaviors and interactions and ultimately become more self-aware. When the necessary consents are able to be obtained from all of the group members' guardians, these video recordings can be reviewed and discussed during the parent meetings. There is, however, no opportunity to observe the students in the group interacting live at this time.
Do you provide groups for older teens and young adults?
Yes. In fact, many of Dr. Bowers' clients who have been working with him over the years are getting older and are still benefiting from group work and wanting to continue. Please contact our office if you have a child between 17-22 years of age who would be interested in participating in a social skills group in the future.
If my child has to miss a class, will I be reimbursed?
We do not reimburse or prorate for any missed classes regardless of the reason (e.g., illness, vacation, scheduling conflict) and thus we ask that you plan accordingly. In the case of inclement weather, we may cancel a class and we will make every effort to reschedule. Parents continue to receive weekly email summaries of group discussion and strategies so even if you need to miss a class you will remain up-to-date on the content of any missed group.
Will you accept my insurance?
Our office does not directly bill your insurance. When you arrive at the office for the initial group meeting, you will receive a form with all of the necessary information to be able to submit a claim directly to your insurance provider. Reimbursement depends on a number of factors that include your specific insurance policy allowances for services as well as your child's diagnosis, if applicable. We have received feedback from families that they have been able to obtain full or partial coverage for their child's participation in groups, but we cannot guarantee that this will be your experience. Thus, we encourage you to call your insurance provider and ask to speak with a Behavioral Health Representative to inquire about coverage for "group therapy".