Autism Relational and Co-Regulation Skills Group
for parents & children
This 8-week group is for families with children on the spectrum interested in improving regulation and relational skills in the context of living with autism. How to know if this group is right for you?
Group Objectives & Treatment Approach
The group is neurodivergent affirming. What does this mean? We identify and build on strengths, explore supportive strategies, and address underlying patterns that create distress without trying to change identity or make autistic individuals comply with monocentric norms of expected behaviors.
Our approach is informed by Polyvagal Theory and is attachment focused and trauma informed. When we feel disconnected from our loved ones and live internal and/or external lives of isolation-this is traumatizing.
Co-Regulation and Polyvagal Theory
The Importance Of Feeling Safe, Grounded & Connected
Polyvagal theory is known as the “science of safety” and was developed by neuroscientist Dr. Stephen Porges. Co-regulation explains the way we achieve emotional balance as our nervous system interacts with another person’s autonomic nervous system. It’s that deep sensation we experience when our nervous systems are linked and we have a deep sense of feeling safe, grounded and connected. Emotional dysregulation disrupts this connection and is inherently distressing.
All Behaviors Serve a Purpose-Discover the "Why?"
In this group, we prioritize individuals creating internal calm and safety to enhance attunement and connection. We all thrive in connection. Especially so if we are autistic.
Who Benefits From This Group?
This group is for you if are feeling overwhelmed, distressed or concerned about raising a child with autism or audhd; If your child is experiencing isolation from peers; and/or if interacting in the world of providers and educators has become challenging.
Feel empowered, informed and reassured as we delve into:
- Managing meltdowns
- Developing self-advocacy
- Identifying and honoring assertive behavior
- Cultivating interdependence for your child
- Practicing grounding skills
- Understanding the internal lived experience of autism not fully captured by diagnoses
Not a Social Skills Group
This is not a social skills group. Though it is common for families to be taught that autistics need social skills training, the difficulties many autistics face in social situations stems less from “deficits” in autistic communication and more from lack of empathy. Also known as the “double empathy” problem, people with different experiences who interact with one another, e.g. those with neurotypical tendencies vs. neurodivergent, may not have empathy towards each other. In other words, communication is a two-way street. Autistics are commonly assessed through a neurotypical lens that focuses on observed behavior rather than the inner experience of the autistic.
We choose not to identify functional behavior as pathology. While we are required to diagnose and use a designation that states “Autism Spectrum Disorder,” we respect that many of the challenges autistic people face is as a result of defining certain behaviors as “autistic” even though many of these behaviors are seen in neurotypical individuals when they are overwhelmed, dysregulated or even happy! Also, many so called social skills are somewhat arbitrary and sometimes not inclusive and culturally biased. Our goal in all of our therapy is to accept that there are differences in thinking and presentation that are part of being human.
For example, a common behavior often addressed in social skills training is the “importance of making eye-contact.” Different cultures perceive the significance of eye contact differently. Also, many autistic individuals (as well as those with trauma), break eye contact to regulate. Forcing a person with sensory integration issues to make eye contact just because that’s how someone else determines “respect” is unfair and may at times be simply cruel.
That said, many autistic individuals find themselves isolated and lacking connection because of a lack of understanding or recognition of social cues. So what to do? We increase our understanding of autism to better determine individual needs and through advocacy attempt to remove barriers in our environment that do not address these needs. By developing increased capacity for self-advocacy, we can create environments that are more inclusive and supportive of the different ways in which we each perceive and operate in the world. Sometimes other people need to step to us!
Enhance Strengths and Build Strategies-Together
Our work together focuses on all the dynamics at play in your family. We do not isolate the children as though they were at fault and the problem to fix. We work on restoring or creating nurturing and fulfilling relationships among all family members. We help parents understand themselves and their children in the context of the many back and forth interactions. We help families connect and appreciate each other. We help them set reasonable and realistic expectations, as well as grieve any perceived loss or dreams that previously defined the family’s identity.
Pre-registration and intake required.
Hybrid in person and virtual groups/sessions.
This group is for parents AND children. Parents will attend some sessions w/o children.
Children and adolescents 10 to 16.
At least one parent is required to attend all group sessions.
Individual fees may vary if additional individual sessions are requested/available. In general, an intake session and 1-3 individual sessions with parents and/or family only may be required.