Looking Beyond Pencils and Books: Social Thinking and Emotional Learning Also Vital to Academic and Social Success

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Center for Social Cognition offers eight-week intensive summer program to develop the cognitive, social, and emotional understanding of children ages four to 12 beginning July 7, 2014.

When it comes to learning, parents and educators must look beyond pencils and books to prepare their children for the school of life. The ability to learn is driven by emotional needs and requires social interaction to be meaningful, according to Karina Poirier, Psy.D, BCBA-D, the clinical director of the Center for Social Cognition in Irvine.

Cognitive, emotional, and behavioral processes must all work together smoothly for a child to succeed socially and academically. In a learning experience, a child must gather and organize information about the people and events involved; interpret the information; regulate her behavior by controlling her impulses; and decide how to respond, Dr. Poirier said.

While acquiring these skill sets is a challenge in itself for typically developing children, the challenge is made even more difficult for children who have cognitive and language delays. These children may demonstrate difficulty understanding emotions and responding appropriately to outside emotional cues, according to Dr. Poirier. They may also show greater deficits in social cognitive processing than other children, which was the case of a Second Grader who was brought to the Center for Social Cognition for social skills therapy.

Prior to receiving therapy from Dr. Poirier, the second grader “had 3 years of intervention services to address severe language delays, inappropriate social behaviors, and cognitive delays. His progress was adequate over that time, and he was still at risk of being placed in a special education program,” said the boy’s mother, whose name is withheld in the interest of the family’s privacy.

“Out of frustration, we turned to CSC, hoping to see our son make greater improvements. It was the best decision we have ever made,” she said.

After starting therapy with Dr. Poirier, her child made “tremendous progress in the first 6 months and successfully integrated in the general kindergarten program with no aide,” the mother said.

Further, “his progress has continued at an amazing rate. After 1½ years of work, our son has overcome his severe language delay and is keeping up with all his 1st grade classmates in reading and math. He is also making good friends and has become an outgoing and charming little boy. Rapid improvements in language, cognitive skills, and social skills have been noticed by everyone (especially with the educators) in our son’s life,” she said.

Parents who want to take advantage of the Center for Social Cognition’s intervention programs now have the opportunity to work with Dr. Poirier on a limited basis during Summer 2014.

Beginning July 7, 2014, and running through August 29, 2014, the Center for Social Cognition will offer an eight-week summer program providing social skills groups and individual social skills therapy to children ages four to 12. In the past, these highly-in-demand programs have been very successful and popular among parents whose children struggle with social and cognitive deficits.

It’s important to keep in mind that each child has unique challenges. While families may not necessarily see progress to the extent other families have seen, the parents of students under the care of Dr. Poirier have found her experience and expertise pivotal in the advancement of their child’s education.

“We believe that our son would not be where he is today without the benefit of (Dr. Poirier’s) expertise and her caring approach. We absolutely recommend families to take advantage of the services at CSC,” said the mother of the second grader.

Parents may learn more about the Center for Social Cognition Summer Program at http://www.drkarinapoirier.com/intensive-social-skills-therapy/.

DR. KARINA POIRIER is the clinical director of the Center of Social Cognition, a prominent clinic for treating social and cognitive deficits in autism. She maintains a “Social Potential” blog to disseminate valuable information about social and cognitive skills training. She runs regular workshops in the Los Angeles area where she trains parents and teachers to help children with autism achieve their maximum potential. Dr. Poirier is the author of the ground-breaking book Unlocking Social Potential in Autism, and she has designed a comprehensive curriculum for parents and teachers to use when teaching children with autism.

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