Summer 2017 Programs
The Summer Programs combine more intensive levels of direct services with additional individualized parent education and support. 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. Unlike our school year program, the bulk of our activities involves outings. This permits us to focus on individual student social skills needs in a more naturalistic, community-based manner.
This summer we are offering three programs for ages 8-11, 11-13, and 14-17 year olds*. Typically we have about 12-17 students attending. Within the six areas identified previously (see home page), the primary goals for all groups involve active listening, following directions the first time, effective conversational skills, increased awareness of environmental hazards, accepting feedback, and effective emotional control. We pay attention to the cognitive, emotional, and social development for each child and adjust our goals, expectations, and strategies accordingly.
Structure for Summer Groups
Drop Off: All programs begin each session with the kids/teens being dropped off at Gelsons Market in Encino (same for pick up). We encourage parents to make it a quick process and not to linger with their children (after the first session). Group participants are encouraged to “hang around,” check in with others, and not isolate. In the case of more shy or socially isolated students, we follow slightly different procedures to address their needs. One aspect of our program is that we focus on building and socially reinforcing behaviors from the moment they arrive until they depart. After they are dropped off, the kids have up to 10 minutes of semi-structured, guided, social interaction time.
Transition: On most days we will be heading out for our daily outing. However, on the first day, this involves walking to a nearby location after we have spent some time in the office getting acquainted and reviewing basic rules and expectations. We will also introduce LUNCH Points, our home generalization program that will begin the second session (parents will already have attended an orientation that includes how to effective use this program, plus there are online tutorials). On subsequent days, we will be getting ready to take a public bus or a chartered bus to our destination.
Throughout the day, we monitor students walking gait, how they interact with others, look for extraneous asocial behaviors, or any unsafe behaviors (such as wanting to dart between a light pole and the curb.... a forbidden, unsafe activity in our program). We practice pedestrian safety, remaining with the group, and following directions during this phase.
Time in the Office: Sometimes we are in the office for a brief period, after the first session, where we remain there longer. We typically start off sessions, either in the office or on the road, with reviewing LUNCH Points certificates, a home-generalization program where parents select from any of 80 behaviors and present them to their children. After a child discusses their certificate with the group, other students decide how many raffle tickets are awarded, based upon various factors. We graduate to focusing on projects, activities, and sometimes games.
Community Outings: We're always looking for different kinds of outings for our group members to enjoy. Some of our activities are daylong, such as going. to the zoo, Discovery Cube, or the Museum of Science. Each outing serves as an. opportunity for students to practice essential skills already described. say. Sometimes, we will be inviting public buses. We have never encountered a problem, however if a situation ever felt unsafe we would exit the bus and ride another. For more remote destinations, we take chartered buses using a certified school bus driver. Other times we may go to a nearby park and spend some of the time in office, especially during our first session.
Snack: We plan our snacks to occur around 10am and either bring something with us or make purchases at nearby locations. We don't impose many restrictions, other than it has to be more of a "snack" than a "meal," there are no desserts or sodas permitted, and sometimes we have students share (items are cut and placed on separate plates by staff). There are a variety of areas we address during this time. Emotional and body regulation, e.g., just walking with others, can be a challenge for some; for others, making simple decisions, such as what to eat, in a reasonable time frame, or monitoring where they are standing and independently moving out of the way of others can be a challenge. Finally for some, just having conversations, remaining focused on the task at hand, or accepting when they don't get the item they wanted.
Lunch: Lunchtime locations can vary considerably. Sometimes, it's just a convenient location, such as going to Carney's next to Pinz Bowling. Other time, such as when we go to the zoo, we eat on-site at the indoor cafe. We generally let group members choose what they want, with some exceptions to maintain a more balanced meal. For example, if they order pizza, we would not permit them ordering fries or having chips, but would steer them toward fruit or suggest a small salad. Similarly, if they do happen to order fries, we would monitor choices, such as how much ketchup they use. We have a soda policy in that we do not get soda every lunch, but usually allow soda every other group or sometimes after two group meetings. The goal is to help them recognize that drinking water is always an acceptable choice and to use it as an easy task for helping students who are more fixed in their ways or demanding to make and accept different choices.
Projects: During the summer, because we are mostly out of the office, any projects that we do tend to be shorter. However, when we do projects, the main purpose isn't so much the technology, such as using avatar figures or animation, it's more to help motivate students and create opportunities for collaborative discussions and problem solving, critical thinking, and effective listening skills.
Pick-Up: We always meet back at Gelsons Market and wait there for you to sign your child out. While typically, about 75% of students enjoy coming to the program, It's the end of a fairly long and, at times, intense day for them. Occasionally, a child who has been perfectly calm the entire time they have been with us, will act differently when they see their parents. This is a great time to mentally note this, then ask to see any video of what they had been up to earlier that same day, possibly even during the time just before they saw you. However, just as asking your children right in that moment tends to not work out so well, it isn't a good time to ask us either. First, we are not going to talk about your child's progress or behavior right in front of them at the end of the day. That tends to make them feel as though they don't have a say. Second, we're a little tired right then too and it isn't the best time to get our best thinking on what is clearly an important topic. Email, parent meetings, webinars, are all great ways and places to have more detailed discussions.
Please, please avoid saying, "how did it go?" right as you greet them. The overwhelming feedback we have received over the years from our students is that they don't really want to talk much in detail right then. Of course, feel free to ask them anything you want, but if at all possible, wait until another time, maybe a few hours later, the next day, just not right when you see them. Similarly, when you pick up your child, we are focused on child safety at that moment.
Interested in your child or teen Participating? Contact Us at 818-788-2100 or use the form below.