CHATTER is a group intervention program for children and teens who have social pragmatic delays. Some children registered in this group are diagnosed with autism, however, a specific diagnosis is not required to enter. Families registered with Disability Services can access CHATTER through a referral. CHATTER programs are scheduled at the Terwillegar Recreation Centre on Thursday evenings and St. Albert Servus Place on Wednesday evenings. Volunteer peers from the community also participate in each group, modelling skills and creating valuable opportunities for children to practice and generalize their learning. The best of our community comes together each week to create a supportive environment for children and teens to learn.
The speech-language pathologist develops lesson plans for each group, carefully designed for the various needs and ages of the participants. A series of parent meetings are 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 to social skills.
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.
What approach does CHATTER use to target social skills?
There are range of social skills programs from Social Thinking (www.socialthinking.com) and PEERS (https://www.semel.ucla.edu/peers) that are used in the CHATTER social skills groups. The CHATTER language groups target early developmental skills such as Joint Attention, Reciprocity, Social Attention and expressive language skills, based on clinical research by Carol Westby’s Social Neuroscience and Theory of Mind. Each group will facilitate friendships between the registrants and the peer mentors, as these relationships are the foundation of social skill development.
How has Covid-19 affected the Chatter groups?
Our social skills groups have had to be flexible with both the provincial regulations and parent preferences. Some of our programs meet virtually, while some registrants meet in pairs only wearing masks and with tabletop Plexiglass between them, and some groups run in-person with all participants, leaders, and volunteers wearing masks. We try to keep a few programs on site as much as possible, but when pandemic measures increase all of our program have to transition on-line until the measures decrease. Our entire Chatter community adapts together.
How many semesters are needed for progress in social skills?
Typically, children and teens need two semesters of social skills programming. We recommend taking a break from CHATTER after two semesters to try community programs and then return to work on more advanced social skills if required. Children who enter our social language programs are assessed individually for continuation.
Does FSCD fund CHATTER?
FSCD will approve CHATTER through a behavioral developmental contract. There are no fees charged to families provided parents have completed all documentation with our agency.
I am not with FSCD, so can I pay for CHATTER?
Yes, families can pay for CHATTER at this time, provided all FSCD approved families with documentation completed are entered in the programs first. Please contact our agency for details on costs. Khan Communication Services will continually assess the option for parents to self pay.