Goals and Orientation:
At Social Strides, students grade K - adult are taught to improve social skills, language, thinking and behavior so that they can enjoy successful interactions in all settings. Groups are language and cognitively/behaviorally based and designed to address individual needs within a safe and consistent small group setting. While many social skills are learned from parents and teachers, some children need extra support from a trained therapist in order to make sense of and negotiate their social world. Therapy involves specific instruction and practice in acquiring social understanding and behaviors that are typically not acquired in day to day interactions despite exposure to the social world. Beyond learning social skills and perspective taking techniques, students are helped to understand why having the ability to think and behave socially is important in their own lives and the lives of others.
All social group sessions are led by an experienced state licensed speech/language therapist who understands the needs of students with spectrum conditions and related diagnoses such as Attention Deficit Disorder, Executive Functioning Disorder/NLD and Sensory Motor differences and has completed the mentorship program at Think Social with Michelle Garcia Winner. Referrals to educational, behavioral and mental health professionals are available on request.
Intervention incorporates many strategies and orientations. Some of the primary influences at Social Strides include:
- M.G. Winner's Social Thinking© (taught by MGWCST certified therapist)
- PEERS social skills program for adolescents and young adults - UCLA
- SUPERFLEX Superhero Social Thinking Curriculum©
- CIRCLES 1: Intimacy and Relationships© Level I ~ Intimacy in Relationships/Our Social Map
- CIRCLES 2: Intimacy and Relationships© Level II ~ Relationship Transitions/Managing Changes
- The Incredible 5 Point Scale©
- TASC/Tools to Acheive Social Competence©
- Carol Gray's Conversation Comic Strips©
- Navigating the Social World by MacAffee©
- Applied behavioral techniques where appropriate
Our Experience and Philosophy:
At Social Strides there is a special passion for the continuing development of communication and social competence in individuals with spectrum conditions or difficulties with social development. The decision to specialize in the area of pragmatic language and perspective-taking follows work with students who have completed ABA and are mainstreamed in regular education classes with aide support or placed in Learning and Resource Centers in grade school and beyond. Difficulties in social thinking, behavior and higher order language ability need to be adequately addressed in order to support students. Services are provided that speak to unique needs and learning styles in order to help students reach their potential both academically and socially.
The founder of Social Strides, Diane Levinthal, has been in the field of speech/language for 25+ years. Diane has a Masters degree in Speech Pathology and is licensed by the State Board of Quality Assurance in addition to holding a Rehabilitative Services Credential and mentorship certification from Think Social in San Jose. Memberships include ASHLA/American Speech, Hearing and Language Association, San Mateo County Speech/Language Association and PHP/Parents Helping Parents.
For the past 14 years Ms. Levinthal has limited her private and district based practice to working primarily with students aged 5-18 years either in collaboration with ABA specialists, in an alternative full inclusion model for students with Aspergers/HFA and in private practice offering social intervention and speech therapy. She has worked in both private and public settings in Marin County, San Francisco and the Peninsula providing speech language services to students with and without difficulties in pragmatic language. Diane lives in San Rafael, CA with her three children, the eldest of which was diagnosed with Pdd/Nos-ADHD at age two.
"I strongly reccommend Social Strides in Redwood City www.socialstrides.com. The director/therapist is one of the most knowledgeable and experienced speech and language pathologists/social cognitive therapists out there. What's more she has a firm grasp of the behaviors that can get in the way of administering such therapy and handles them well. It's rigorous yet fun. Both students and parents learn a ton! I've seen so much generalization from my son and his work at Strides." ~ Erika
"We've been taking our son to Social Strides in Redwood City and are very pleased with his progress. The director there, Diane, is amazing. Our son knew almost instantly that this was a safe place for him and he is learning and bringing it into other settings. His grouping has been good and they are very accommodating as to times and days. She knows her stuff and understands our son's challenges." ~ Joan
"It's like my daughter becomes the person she is supposed to be when she enters these rooms. It all starts here and then we see the skills grow in other settings." Anne
"We've been in social groups before. When you explain what happened in my son's session and what I can do to help during the week, I understand it. I can walk right out, offer suggestions to his teacher and help him make progress myself." Carol
"Diane helped give me the confidence and the ability to independently make a life for myself outside of work and graduate studies. I walked into the office a very lone wolf and left therapy nine months later with friends (whom I am now comfortable seeing in groups of more than two or three) and a first real girlfriend. We plan to be married in the near future." ~ Anonymous young adult.