Welcome to the revised LUNCH Groups® website as of March 2017. Hopefully, you will find this easier to navigate and find relevant information more quickly than the previous site. However, in case anything important hasn't yet made its way over to this new site, click here to access the former LUNCH Groups® site.
Started in 2001, LUNCH Groups® is a transdiagnostic social learning skills program for children, teens, and adults. To date, we have treated more than 1100 students and adults in our programs. It is designed to address the needs of individuals diagnosed with ADHD/ADD, High Functioning Autism (including what used to be called Asperger’s Syndrome), social shyness and anxiety, specific learning disorders, language challenges, oppositional behavior, and Avoidant Personality Disorder/Traits (adults only). Other Diagnoses are considered on a case-by-case basis.
Our treatment approaches combine research-based behavior management techniques, social learning theory and modeling, cognitive behavior therapy, and psychoeducation. Using a range of engaging activities and motivating technologies, such as computer animation, participants increase their proficiency in key areas.
We focus on six primary areas (descriptions appear below):
- Executive Function;
- Pragmatic Language;
- Social Competence;
- Daily Living;
- Academic/Vocational Readiness;
- Environmental Awareness
Our student programs include a robust parent support and education component. This consists of in-office meetings, webinars, and email communication. Our adult program combines discussion and activities in the office with going out for meals or appetizers.
We accept private pay, regional center clients (parents pay a materials fee for food, raffle prizes, and outings), and school district clients.
Core Treatment Areas
- Paying attention
- Self-regulation (emotional control)
- Effective judgement
- Working memory
- Successful coping strategies
- Accepting feedback
- Basic nutritional understanding
- Understanding the importance of sufficient sleep
- Maintaining hygiene-related behaviors
- Trying new foods
- Restaurant behavior
- Using technology responsibly
- Reading non-verbal facial and gestural cues
- Knowing what to say, when to say it
- and how to say it
- Speaking in a manner that fits specific social situations
- Adjusting language usage to the audience being addressed
- Giving brief and concise responses
- Remaining seated in class
- Written and oral comprehension
- Participating in group activities
- Focusing on the immediate task or conversation
- Effective hand-raising
- Recognizing what is appropriate conversation and social boundaries for school or the workplace
- Maintaining effective conversations
- Knowing how to act in common social situations
- Looking at situations from the perspective of others
- Remaining on topic
- Knowing when (and how) to "jump in" to a discussion
- Modulating voice level for different situations
- Pedestrian safety
- Effective behavior in community settings, such as restaurants, stores, malls, parks, and community events
- Knowing what is safe vs dangerous in the community and taking appropriate cautions
Most individuals do not need to address all of these areas. We conduct a pre-group assessment and produce a report to more precisely determine those specific areas and behaviors that need to be prioritized for initial intervention. As individuals progress through our programs, the level of proficiency expected for certain skills will likely change and new areas may be selected for intervention.
It is best to thoroughly read this website, especially the overview, and glance at my private practice website (http://www.bgalephd.com) to gain a sense of how we organize and run the program. The initial portion of the assessment starts with a telephone consult, generally lasting between 10-20 minutes. If you feel satisfied that this program is likely to meet the needs of your child and I feel there is a good chance they can benefit from participating, we proceed to arranging for an in-office meeting. To set this up, call us at 818-788-2100 or click here to access our secure contact form.
Length of Treatment
All of our student programs are time-limited and this fits in with our overall philosophy that continuous treatment of social skills is often not necessary and, in some cases, may not be desirable. By working for a finite period of time, it helps us focus on those areas you and we feel are most relevant to target while honing our strategies and helping you carrying techniques and gains into other settings. Even when children return for subsequent programs, there are still breaks of one to two months between the time one program ends and another begins.
Program Data Results
We collect data throughout our program via observations, initial assessments, and feedback from group members and their parents. In addition to the summary data below, you can view and/or print out a detailed analysis:
In School Year 2010-11, a total of 74% of families rated the program as "Excellent" and 22% rated it as "Good." 73% agreed that their child made "Significant Progress" during the 2011-2011 School Year Program. Of those who did not report major gains, 87% reported their child made at least minor gains. 96% would recommend the program to another family.
For Summer 2013, 95% of parents reported that their child made "Significant Gains." However, only 50% of the families 40 families participating completed the post-group survey, so it is possible that families that were not as satisfied did not provide their input. This summary focuses primarily on parent comments as 60% rated the program as "Excellent" and 40% rated it as "Very Good."
For Summer 2014, a total of 72.4% of 31 families responding rated the program as "Excellent", 24% rated it as "Very Good," and 3.1% rated it as "Good." (Note: The choice "Very Good" was added in 2011). 93% agreed that their child made "Significant Progress" during the 2014 Summer Program. Again, 96% would recommend the program to another family, however one parent responded "Strongly Disagree" to this question. Click here to view comments from the families.
Criteria for all Groups
To participate in one of our programs, prospective group members must be able to demonstrate the following:
- Cognitive level must be above the level of impairment, so they can understand and follow program activities; (or case by case determination by Dr. Gale or Dr. Mazor);
- Must be able to remain seated for at least short periods of time (e.g., 5-10 minutes);
- Can read and understand pedestrian signs and signals;
- No active psychosis or substance abuse;
- No violent, threatening, or serious self-harm behaviors at school or in the community within the past six months;
Programs for Students
School Year Student Programs
Programs: We have four programs that meet from October until May. They are broken down by the following age ranges: 6-8, 8-11, 11-13, and 14-17. These are guidelines rather than absolute ranges. A more mature 7 1/2 year old may fit better into the 8-11 year old group, while a 9 year old with significant learning challenges may do better in the younger group. Decisions are based upon an individualized pre-group assessment.
Activities: Participants spend time in the office practicing a variety of skills required for social success and either go out for snacks (6-8 and 8-11 groups) or dinner (11-13 and 14-17 groups) to practice social interaction skills in naturalistic settings. All groups meet twice per month. The 6-8 and 8-11 groups meet on Tuesdays, the 11-13 group on Wednesdays, and the 14-17 year old group on Thursdays.
We will begin accepting referrals for our 2017-18 School Year Program in June 2017. Click here if you wish to be informed at that time.
Summer Intensive Student Programs
Our 2017 Program is designed for students aged 8-17. We have three programs (sorry, we won't accepting 6 or 7 year olds this year for the summer program). Whereas the school program is primarily indoors, except when we go out to eat, the summer program mostly involves going to various community locations. We travel by chartered school bus with certified driver as well as by public transportation. Participants practice the same kinds of skills as during school year to improve their level of social success.
Besides the typical elements that are part of the LUNCH Groups® School Year Program, the opportunity to work with students for sustained time periods multiple times per week typically produces more significant changes in behavior, based upon previous parent feedback and staff observations.
We have begun accepting referrals for our 2017 Summer Program. Click here if you wish to be contacted so see if your child and the program are a good match.
Programs for Adults
We have two adult program that meet in our Encino office. The first is designed to meet the social needs and adaptive skill challenges for adults ages 18 to 24, while the second program is designed for adults aged 25-40. Each program meets twice a month, on Mondays, 2 1/2 hours, from 4:00pm-6:30pm. Group members spend the first 50-60 minutes in the office engaged in discussions or focused on ongoing projects, then transition to a nearby restaurant for dinner or appetizers.
All prospective clients are individually assessed to determine areas of impairment specifically regarding social functioning, as these serve as behavioral targets within the program. The primary techniques will include social modeling, behavior management, psychoeducation, and cognitive behavioral therapy.
This group is most appropriate for clients who are experiencing difficulties socializing with peers effectively due to difficulty focusing, shyness, and related challenges.. Individuals with the following diagnoses are likely to be appropriate referrals: Mild/High Functioning Autism (including what used to be called Asperger’s Syndrome); ADD/ADHD, Avoidant Personality Disorder/Traits; Social Shyness; and Specific Learning Disabilities. Other Diagnoses are considered on a case-by-case basis.