End of the Summer

August 13, 2016

I am sorry that I have not written in a while.  This week we finished up all our summer programs (well, with a few make ups to go).  We had a great time working with a variety of different clients and families. There were a few highlights for me personally:

1. I loved getting back into the swing of running a group alone.  The high school group was incredible, and I learned so much from working with these students.  We covered many topics including the "Steps of Communication",  logical vs. emotional decisions,  the use of humor, and the hidden social rules associated with initiating and maintaining a social relationship,  I thought that looking at concepts through use of cinema was a great way to drive home those concepts and make the learning of social a little more fun. 

2. Then, there was the EF (Executive Function) group I ran for two days a week for 4 weeks. This was the first time I took this type of group on, and I just had so much fun.  We learned about the major aspects of EF and intersect with daily living skills and social development.  The guys loved learning about EF through personal stories and the use of technology.  I would love to run a class like this again and use what I learned over the summer to make the next session even better!

3. I also had a chance to help run the Minecraft camp and to be a small part of our 1-4pm Middle School Explorations group.  Both of these sessions included clients with whom I have a long standing relationship. I just loved being around them and watching them grow over the summer.  They did so many amazing things including creating the SLC YouTube account and co-authoring an article with me that we are hoping to have published (I just found out from my editor it will be coming out on 8/22 so be looking for that!). 

Overall, we feel this summer was a huge success. I hope everyone who participated felt the same way!  Many thanks for everything and I hope to see you all in the fall. 

Best

Chris

EF class Recap

August 3

Wow.  I had a great time running this class with these five guys.  I learned so much about my approach to EF and its impact on social thanks to their feedback and experiences.  We learned about the major categorizes associated with EF including:

  • Planning and Organization

  • Working Memory

  • Emotional Control

  • Inhibition

  • Attention

  • Initiation

The guys took a quiz on Monday and I am proud to report that everyone received an 80% or better.  I think they actually enjoyed the quiz as we used an on line response system so it tapped into their love of technology. 

However, even though I think the guys did learn more about the terms and tools to use for each of the areas of EF, having them apply tools and strategies in real life continues to be something we will be working on.  This was made apparent today during our Minecraft time and our Ice cream party.  Daily living skills are all about how we use our EF.......I need to make a plea to parents, teachers, other counselors, that we are allowing kids to do things for themselves and at least attempt to use / practice those EF competencies.  If they are not given a chance to practice, receive feedback, learn from mistakes and feel good about themselves when they are successful, their EF skills will NOT improve.

This is a journey I will continue to take with everyone and I am other clinicians here are already thinking about other ways to both teach and practice EF competencies. 

I thank you all for being a part of this group.  I hope you had a good time and I hope you all have a great start to the school year. 

Mr. Chris. 

Good time today boys.  Have a great rest of your summer and hope to see you in the fall!

Good time today boys.  Have a great rest of your summer and hope to see you in the fall!

Week 4 High School Group

Aug 4

Today the group started with a game of "Likewise" which is all about sharing thoughts and thinking about another's perspective. We then headed out for a 15 min. walk down to a local coffee shop.  We had a great time there making small talk, sharing photos, and started some planning for our last week.  

Getting out into the community was such a great thing to do for this group. I thought everyone did a great job when it came to ordering/paying, talking with each other at the table and even showing an interest in each other in terms of asking questions and follow up questions to another's life/interest.  This group really has come together and I will be sad to see it end. 

Next week we only have 3 days.  Wed will be our ending session where we will be planning something fun to do as a group.  I hope you all have a great weekend and see you on Monday. 

Chris

 

Aug 3

Our group has become one of my favorites ever!  Today we focused on concepts related to "humor".  Humor is a "social skill" that we sometimes take for granted.  Humor changes over time and through development.  For example, what we used to think was funny back when we were 5 and 6 is not so funny when you are in high school.  However in high school, what we think is "funny" needs to be only verbally said (or commented on in the case of being on line) within the right context.  For example, there are some jokes we may tell our "friends" but those types of jokes may not be appropriate for our grandmother. We need to be able to read the context, who we are sharing space with and even their ideas of what they think is funny before telling them a joke or funny story.  Our discussion was much deeper than this simple written re cap and its something I have loved being a part of with this group.

We also talked about "Autism" and whats it like having an ASD, and personal disclosure. It was great to hear the group talk about their experiences with finding out they had an ASD and what it means to them now! 

We also started another movie, "the Great Outdoors" in which we will be examining family dynamics, humor, relationships and social intent!

Remember to bring a little money for tomorrow's trip to the coffee shop!!  See you all in the morning. 

Mr. Chris. 

 

 

August 1

Where is the summer going!!  Today was another great class. We took a second to think about all the concepts we have talked about and explored so far this summer...and look at everything the group came up with!

Social concepts from the summer. 

We started our 3rd movie today, "the Duff".....excellent movie when exploring high school relationships, cliques, social status, and hidden social rules.  

So to let people know how we are using the movies: This week we each took a concept from the sheet and we had to look out for examples of that concept in the movie. The group really likes exploring ideas around the various concepts when using movies and other media forms.  

Have a great night everyone and see you tomorrow!

Chris

High School Group Week 3

July 28

Hi Everyone,

The summer is flying by!  I can't believe we are at the end of week 3 already.  

Today was another great session.  Most of the session centered around this clip on social awkwardness. I would highly encourage others to watch this clip.  I will be using this more in other future groups. Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o268qbb_0BM

Thank you all for a great week.  I will be here every day next week except for Thrus when Ms. Ashley will be working with you all.  Enjoy your weekend and see you on Monday. 

July 26

Hi Everyone.  

We are in Day 2 of Week 3.  We have finished analyzing the movie "Perks of Being a Wallflower".  Watching this movie allowed for some amazing discussion around relationship development, empathy, social norms, concepts related to "rules change with age" and mental health issues. 

One thing I would like everyone to be working on is this concept of "sharing your eyes".  I have been noticing that everyone has decent "eye contact" however when they need to talk with a group of people, they tend to just focus on one member of the group.  If we are not able to share our eyes with everyone we share space with, we may leave others feeling left out.  Checking in with others using our eyes is a critical social skill / concept to be thinking about. 

Today we started analyzing the Goonies, a classic movie about coming of age, social relationships group dynamics and problem solving. Watching several minutes and pausing to talk about what is happening, what are the emotions the characters are feeling and predicting what may happen is really effective when teaching social concepts and rules. 

In the coming days, the other thing I will be writing on / talking about with the group is being able to focus on the important details of a topic or situation. I am noticing that sometimes we tend to focus details that are not important to the social situation. When we do that, we may miss the more salient aspects of our social context. 

Great group today guys!!  See you all in the morning. 

-Chris

 

EF Class Week 2

July 20

I am loving this class.  Today we focused on "attention" and all the different cognitive and behavioral aspects that go into us sustaining attention (especially when we are doing something that is boring, hard, or when presented with a lot of information at one time). What I learned about this group is this:

  • We all have things we think that we have better attention skills for those things of high interest. 

  • Many of us struggle with keeping our attention when it comes to Math and Language Arts. 

  • There are "external" and "internal" distractions -most of us get more distracted by internal (or thoughts) distractions. 

  • We talked about using a tool like "self talk" to catch ourselves when we are becoming off task. 

  • We used the term "power off" when we feel those internal thoughts taking us away from the task we should be thinking about/doing. We talked about how this can pertain to the concept of "shifting" from one thought to another. 

We then used the game "Pokemon Go" to address how attention and awareness tie into each other. We may come back to this as I learned a lot while watching the group trying to multi-task and "shift. 

We did posted a picture of our guys heading out to play on our FB page......so make sure you check it out!!  Have a great weekend and see you all on Monday!!!  

Mr. Chris

 

July 18

Boys - great session today!  Our class today was all about _________ (please fill in the blank for you parents!)

WM is a critical part of our over all EF make up and tied closely to both attention and processing speed (all things we talked about as well). Today we looked everything from "Finding Dory" to "Dog with a Blog" with the intention of teaching the strategy of "learning to watch and listen for information".  Many of you (and other clients) just "watch to watch".  Getting in the habit of watching and listening to "learn" will help not only in school but in social relationships as well. I have to say that as the class went on, ALL of you WM skills increased for the task that we were doing!!

Here is a fun website I worked on with the boys:  http://www.cogmed.com/working-memory-challenge.  I would encourage you to play this game with your family, and other games that challenge your "WM" and attention. 

I will be bringing in a fun snack on Wed as they were able to hold a certain amount of things in their WM pertaining to a show we watched.  Again, great job today boys. On Wed we will be talking about "Attention".

Have a good few days!

Mr. Chris

 

SLC High School Group Week 3

July 18, 2016

Hello Everyone!!  I am back and happy to be home from a wonderful experience in New Orleans at the ASA Conference. 

I heard great things about last week while I was away from Ashley.  Today we picked up in Chapter 3 of Michelle Winner's Book "Socially Curious & Curiously Social" talking about the differences between "changing" and "adapting" when it comes to the social context you find yourself in. We read directly from the chapter and had some great discussions around this topic.

We then moved to talking about how social "rules" (both those written and unwritten) change with age.  The idea of "changing social rules" was really the theme for today and was driven home by discussion, a fun question/response activity everyone got to do on their phones, and by looking at clips from the show "the Big Bang Theory".  

it was another great group and I will see everyone in the morning!

Mr. Chris

SLC EF class Day 1

July 11

Hi everyone: I have to say.....its 10:15pm and my EF skills are shot for the night :)  I will write a little more tomorrow morning but today's class was great.  We did some people file work to get to know the others in the class, we watched a You Tube video on what EF is and then we looked at one of my talks on EF for more detail.  We discovered that our EF is like our.....see this is where my working memory is failing me: EVAN: Can you comment on what term we came up with....was it our "processor" (it had something to do with the computer). 

The guys also took a self questionnaire about what they thought their EF strengths and areas of need were.  This will help me in terms of planning the lessons. 

Ok, I think I did ok with an update for you all :)  I am heading to bed soon.  However, I need to let you know that I am traveling this week to New Orleans to speak at the ASA National Conference.  Another clinician in the office, Ashley, will be leading the class on Wed.  I don't think we will post after that class but if you I need to, I will post from New Orleans regarding our next class.  

Here is the You Tube video we watched (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REo3fzja5xs)

I am very excited about this group and I had a great time today!  I know its not the most exciting group you have ever done with us, but I am looking forward to working with you and we will do our best to make learning about EF fun!!!  Have a good night everyone and see you Wed. 

Mr. Chris

SLC High School Group Week 2

I am sorry I am writing so late at night.  We had a great morning and here is a picture the shows a little about what we did.  Please ask your son/daughter about this picture and see what they can say: HINT - we talked about steps to perspective taking, repairing communication breakdowns and examined some hidden social rules. I have been energized by this group and really enjoy our discussions. Here is the picture:

Guys - please talk about these two things at home!!

Guys - please talk about these two things at home!!

I will be there tomorrow but I will be away speaking on Wed - Sat in New Orleans. I will try to post while I am away but if you have any questions or concerns please feel free to email.  Another one of our clinicians, Ashley, will be leading the group while I am away.  

Have a great night everyone.  See you in the morning. 

Mr. Chris

July 12

Another great group.  I can't tell you how much fun I am having running this group.  Today was all about: social groups and norms and where do I fit in.  A lot of this has to do with social motivation, social performance, initiating conversation and understanding one's social context....there is a lot that goes into understanding one's social "group" or status (and we really didn't even scratch the surface). 

This group is really pushing me to think more about how we teach these concepts!  We had a lot of great discussion about how a lot of us have good "social skills" but we may lack the confidence and competence to use them....is there no easy answer to any of this...but the conversation and discussion we had this morning was right on target. 

Here is the clip we we watched today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgHHi6fbL6Y

I hope you all have a great night and I will see you on Monday. Remember Ashley will be with the group tomorrow and Thursday!

-Mr. Chris

 

SLC High School Thoughts

July 6:  
Today was our first day for the group and I could not have been more excited about having a chance to work with all the guys.  It was an intro day so we worked on developing our "people files" and examining how our working memory plays into remembering things about people.  This is a critical part of "being social" as it allows us a spring board for initiating, starting conversations, having the confidence to approach people, etc.  

We talked for over an hour and just had some great conversations about our own personal experiences in high school, our interests and even got into giving each other constructive feedback.  

I then showed the group the following clip from my friend and mentor Michelle Winner around the "Four Steps to Communication" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qYz1SRy15M

We will be reviewing these steps tomorrow, seeing what we remember and can pull from our people files and we will be exploring this aspect of how and why we need to take the perspective of other we are sharing both "physical and thinking" space with.  

Have a great night. 

-Chris 

July 7

Hi Everyone

Today was one of those days I love being a clinician! Often times, both in schools and when working in private practice, you walk into a group with a plan, but the clients you are working with need something different on that day. My plan was to work on levels of perspective taking, however the group went in another direction after reviewing the steps of communication.  We had some great dialogue about working in groups, particularly in school.  Sometimes we are placed in groups and other times we get to choose who we work with....either situation can be extremely daunting. 

From there, we talked about our experiences with working in groups, those stumbling blocks what we encounter and then the role or relationship we have with those in our group.  That led us into discussing the progression of friendship.  For today's discussion, I pulled out Michelle's description which can be found here

Amazing discussion was had by everyone about each level!  I was very open in my thoughts around "friendship" and how two very important variables that also impact "friends" and how we establish friendships are "trust and time". Often times I don't here therapists talking about just how important these two factors are.  We can't just "expect" our kids or clients to "have friends" without teaching and talking about these two variables.  Once again, we had a great discussion around all these concepts.  We ended playing a game of "Catch Phrase" which is one of my favorites as it helps us improve our working memory, processing speed and verbal communication with  a partner. 

Thanks for making these past two days so exciting for me and I hope you all have a great weekend. 

Chris