The CHATTER program was the first community-based social skills group in Edmonton, Alberta. For over 15 years CHATTER has helped children and teens learn to socialize and successfully build relationships with peers. Many children registered in this group are diagnosed with autism, however, a specific diagnosis is not required to enter. Families must be registered with Disability Services in order to access CHATTER. The programs are scheduled at the Terwillegar Recreation Centre on Thursday evenings and Fountain Park Pool in St. Albert on Wednesday evenings. Trained peers join the program to help mentor a CHATTER registrant to communicate, socialize, and make friends.
CHATTER kids benefit greatly from the support and assistance provided by the peer mentors and group leaders. The speech-language pathologist develops lesson plans for each group, carefully designed for the various needs of the participants. A series of parent meetings are also provided during the semester so that families are well informed of the goals of their child's groups and how theories and strategies are applied in social skill activities. Parents also benefit from sharing experiences in a supportive environment.
Parents share what they have learned from CHATTER
CHATTER runs in two semesters:
Once a referral is received from the case worker, an initial consultaiton is scheduled at our office. You will meet the speech-language pathologist to determine if CHATTER will meet your child's needs, and which group is best suited:
Program for young children 5 to 8 years of age, to develop joint attention, symbolic play, social referencing and expressive language skills.
Program for elementary aged children to develop an increased awareness of friends in the same space, perspective taking, emotions, problem solving, conversational & executive functioning skills.
Program for adolescence and teens to learn conversation skills, friendship skills, repairing interactions, reading nonverbal cues, problem solving and managing the unexpected. Language processing and working memory skills are also targeted in social environments.
A maintenance plan is an integral part of developing social skills in the community. The speech-language pathologist will help families develop a maintenance plan for their child or teen. Following the CHATTER program some participants will follow a maintenance plan lead by their parents, while others can join the CHATTER Maintenance program at Terwillegar Recreation Center on Thursday evenings. This program provides children with continued practice of their skills in a supportive environment with community peers.
Is your school or agency interested in the CHATTER program? Contact us for details on half day or full day workshops and professional development opportunities for your staff on developing and implementing social skills groups.