When the waiting list for a class is nearly 200 children, you know the need is high. Social skills classes for older children on the autism spectrum are one of CTC’s most in-demand programs – and also one of the most under-funded.
“The number of children with ASD and related communication disorders served by CTC has increased by over 120% in the last two years,” says CTC’s center programs director Julie Cross. “There is a lack of providers in South King and Pierce counties, and we’re one of a handful of providers offering social skills classes. That’s why our waiting list is so high.”
Community support from individual donors and foundations help make a big dent in that list. Recent grants from Quota of Kent Valley and the Renton Community Foundation will help us add more classes to serve children like Alex and his parents, Josh and Amanda. “Things can snowball for kids like Alex unless they get some help,” says Josh. “Their communication problems get worse, not better. In social skills class, Alex has learned how to be calm versus hyper with his friends. And the group outings the kids take have been amazing in terms of results!”
“So many of our kids, especially those with autism, have difficulty understanding and participating in social interactions. Kids in our social skills group program learn specific skills and strategies for interpreting body language, sharing ideas and being flexible, interacting in appropriate ways, and carrying on a conversation.”
–Erin, Speech-Language Pathologist
Children learn alongside other kids in class and practice their new skills in this setting. “Their parents then help them use these skills in other settings,” Erin, a speech-language pathologist in our Burien center says. “We see kids grow in their ability to begin and maintain friendships and in their confidence in interacting with peers. They have fun in group and sometimes the friendships started in our program continue outside the therapy setting!”
The program is in high demand. “Parents see their child gain the interpersonal skills needed to successfully navigate school, home, and social environments,” says Julie. “It makes a huge difference in their child’s life.”