Traditional approaches to social skill development may often be ineffective for those in most need of them – those who are neuro-diverse (for example, on the Autism Spectrum, with dyspraxia, or with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), those who have experienced trauma, those with an intellectual disability, and those who present with Complex Communication Needs. This may be due to difficulties with language, attention, and memory.
Storying Beyond Social Difficulties with Neuro-Diverse Adolescents is a manual that outlines an eight-session programme, called "Imagine, Create, Belong", that involves a range of activities designed to develop theory of mind, flexible thinking, empathy, and narrative ability. The sessions can be run across 8 or 16 weeks and contain sections suitable for those in mainstream schools, with adaptations to support adolescents with additional needs (including moderate intellectual disability and Complex Communication Needs). The manual does this via a range of age-appropriate play-based activities within a group setting focused on making a movie. It includes non-verbal and verbal approaches to social development and is an implicit approach to social skills.
The programme is suitable for young people aged 11 years to 15 years with social difficulties. It includes content that may suit adolescents from both individualist and collectivist cultures. The manual provides step-by-step guidance for practitioners to run the "Imagine, Create, Belong" social skills programme with participants with a range of intellectual abilities who have been identified by parents, teachers, or other professionals as having social difficulties.
List of Figures and Tables
Chapter 1. Adolescence and Social Interaction
Chapter 2. How to Use this Manual
Chapter 3. Session 1: Setting the Scene
Chapter 4. Session 2 Participants’ Life Story and the Life Story of the Character
Chapter 5. Session 3: Narrative and Identity: How Does Your Character Act and Feel?
Chapter 6. Session 4: Context, Plot Structure, Props and Scenes
Chapter 7. Session 5: Beginning to Identify Problems to Solve in the Story
Chapter 8. Session 6: How Will the Characters Solve the Identified Problems and What Are the Props for The Movie?
Chapter 9. Session 7: Bringing it All Together
Chapter 10. Session 8: The Grand Finale
Chapter 11. Epilogue
'Imagine, Create, Belong' is an exceptionally innovative 8-session program that fills a gap for neuro-diverse youth aged 11-15 who struggle with responding to and understanding social situations. It is both culturally and developmentally sensitive and identifies the importance of missing links in early foundational play development. A first of its’ kind, the program focusses on neuro-responsive social scaffolding using play-based movie-making activities. Engaging and fun, it is inclusive of neuro-diverse students in both main-stream and special-education settings. 'Imagine, Create, Belong' presents break-through concepts in how to assist youth who struggle with social engagement. This is an essential program for all child and youth therapists!
Lorri Yasenik, PhD, RSW, RPT-S, CPT-S, Co-Director of Rocky Mountain Play Therapy Institute