The Shafer Center Adds Social Skills Component to Summer Programming for Children on the Autism Spectrum, Offers Additional After-camp Program

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Integration of social thinking instruction in Camp Connect XYZ and addition of Camp Bridge Building program will help children better navigate social interactions and their environment

Social cognition is the ability to properly respond to the emotional cues of others, and this skill, intuitive in most chidren, must be taught to those on the autism spectrum...One focus of our program is to ensure children learn this skill...

The Shafer Center, an Owings Mills-based school for children and young adults on the autism spectrum, today announced the integration of a social skills-building curriculum to complement its Camp Connect XYZ summer program. The Shafer Center will also offer its Bridge Building program after camp, applying skills learned throughout the day to help children navigate their environment and build meaningful social experiences in a group setting.

A yearly summer service offered by The Shafer Center, Camp Connect XYZ is an extension of the Center’s Connect XYZ program, which teaches children not only the fundamentals of reading, but also the complexity of comprehension so that they may make meaningful connections to information. The integration of social curriculum with existing critical thinking and reading comprehension instruction aims to develop a child on the autism spectrum’s ability to appropriately navigate and respond to common social situations, including team building and cultivating relationships. The social curriculum will focus on helping children understand their own and others’ thoughts, emotions and perceptions; read social cues and facial expressions; and learn self-regulation.

According to Stephanie Durfee, director of education at The Shafer Center, social cognition is the ability to properly respond to the emotional cues of others, and this skill, intuitive in most children, must be taught to those on the autism spectrum. “One focus of our program is to ensure children learn this skill, and thus build relationships with peers, teachers, family members and their community,” said Durfee.

The Camp Bridge Building program mirrors The Shafer Center’s existing program, which focuses on developing a child’s sense of self and skills needed in adulthood. Many children on the autism spectrum require systems to functionally navigate their environments and Bridge Building provides that connection between the child and society. For some children, this may be modeling how to patiently wait at a restaurant, or learning how to make a grocery list.

“We are extremely excited to add a group Bridge Building component to camp this summer. The idea is to take the critical thinking and social skill goals worked on during the day and be able to practice them in the afternoon in a more natural social setting,” said Helen Shafer, founder and president of The Shafer Center. “We’ve offered Camp Connect over the past two years and one of the best parts has been watching the friendships our kids have formed. Now, we want to see if we can build those social skills using a systematic evidenced-based approach.”

Camp Connect XYZ is an eight-week program running Monday through Friday from June 22 to Aug. 11, 2015 at The Park School in Baltimore. With a 3:5 teacher-student ratio, children receive individualized attention and instruction in critical thinking, reading comprehension, social skills and recreational activity. The camp offers half day (9 a.m. to noon) and full day (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) registration and the option to add one or two sessions of group Bridge Building per week (3 to 5 p.m.).

To register for a summer program, contact Alanna Ditman at 410-517-1113 or by email at Alanna(dot)Ditman(at)ShaferCenter(dot)com. Please direct all media inquiries to Josie Hankey at 410-420-2001 or by email at Josie(dot)Hankey(at)FallstonGroup(dot)com.

About The Shafer Center
The Shafer Center for Early Intervention is located in Owings Mills, Md. Children at The Center range in age from two to eight years old. The Shafer Center also provides off-site intervention services for children well into their adolescent years. The Maryland Department of Education has approved The Shafer Center for Early Intervention as a non-public school.

The Shafer Center for Early Intervention knows that being the parent of a child with special needs can be challenging. By being a central resource for families seeking education, assessment and treatment, The Shafer Center replaces fear and uncertainty with hope and knowledge. The Center’s unique approach and methods improve a child’s opportunity to succeed, and in turn, make it a rewarding experience for the entire family. The Shafer Center for Early Intervention accomplishes this by integrating three vital components that make its programs the optimal choice for treating children with autism spectrum disorders:

  •     A Whole-Child Approach
  •     A Multi-Disciplinary Team
  •     A Focus on Maintenance and Generalization of Skills

For more information about The Shafer Center for Early Intervention and its unique environment, visit the Center’s website at http://www.ShaferCenter.com.

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