Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Are groups at Academy MetroWest the same as social pragmatics or language pragmatics groups?
A. While groups at Academy MetroWest share some of the same goals and approaches to social skills groups as social pragmatics groups, there are many important distinctions as well. Like social pragmatics groups, groups at Academy MetroWest address concrete social skills issues frequently encountered among children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Non-verbal Learning Disorder, and other neurointegrative disorders. These issues may include deficits in perspective taking, central coherence (seeing the big picture), and executive functions. In addition to working on these cognitive issues, groups at Academy MetroWest give equal emphasis to emotional and psychological issues such as developing self-esteem, resilience, healthy body image, and developing an image of themselves as a capable social being.
Q. Are participants required to have a formal, mental health diagnosis in order to participate in a group?
A. Many children and adolescents enter our program with a formal diagnosis, but it is not a requirement for participation in our social skills groups. Children who have been diagnosed with ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Non-verbal Learning Disorder, Anxiety, Learning Disabilities, and other issues in which social skills delays play a prominent role, are well represented among our group members. However, a substantial number of children and adolescents in our program do not have a formal diagnosis.
Q. Are children placed in groups based on their diagnosis?
A. Children often find themselves placed in groups with peers who share their diagnosis, but it is not the only factor determining group placement. We place children in groups with the goal of maximizing their chances for establishing and maintaining social connections with their peers, as well as their overall chances for attaining success. When considering group placement, we look at factors such as physical skills, personality, and overall developmental level. Sometimes this means that children will be placed in a group comprised solely or largely of peers who share a diagnosis but this is not always the case.
Q. How long do children typically remain in the program?
A. When the program proves to be well suited to a child or adolescent’s needs, most participants stay with us for 1 – 2 years. However, many stay longer. For many children, even when they have made substantial progress, socializing remains an endeavor that does not come to them easily or intuitively. For that reason, many participants are drawn to the supportive, understanding community they find at Academy MetroWest and opt to return for many years.
Q. What kind of feedback and communication can parents expect from their child’s counselor?
A. Academy MetroWest strives to establish and maintain open and regular lines of communication with parents. We try to provide as much feedback, both formal and informal, as parents need. Over the course of a full academic year, all parents will receive two written reports from their child’s counselor. Reports address goals that parents establish with a counselor during their initial interview. Most reports address childrens’ performance across the different segments of their groups such as free time, transitions, group decision-making times, and during the activities themselves. In addition to written reports, we strive to maintain an informal and accessible environment. Parents are encouraged to check in with their child’s counselor via phone, email, or in person if they are seeking feedback, wish to share information, or want to discuss issues that their children are facing in educational, social, recreational, or family settings.
Q. How do I enroll my child in a social skills group at Academy MetroWest?
A. All children who wish to enroll in a social skills group must first undergo an initial interview. The interview involves the child and at least one parent and usually lasts 75-90 minutes. The first part of the interview takes place in our gym. We tour the facility and then run through a series of physical activities with the child. The activities are fun and low-key and are designed to foster a good, initial connection between the child and the program. They also enable the counselor to assess the child’s physical skills, personality, and a number of cognitive skills. The remainder of the interview is spent with the parents in an office. During this phase of the interview, counselors review the child’s performance in the gym, provide a detailed description of our social skills groups, and collect information about various aspects of the child’s functioning. Information about group placement is provided during the interview when possible.
Q. Are groups at Academy MetroWest covered by health insurance?
A. Academy MetroWest does not bill insurance companies directly. However, some families have been able to receive reimbursement from their providers after pre-paying for social skills services. Most insurance providers require a formal mental health diagnosis, a service provider with suitable licensure in fields such as counseling, social work, or psychology, and a policy that allows for out-of-network coverage in order to provide reimbursement. Fee adjustments can be made on the basis of need for those families unable to obtain reimbursement.
Q. How do I present the idea of participating at Academy MetroWest to my child?
A. The appropriate answer to this question will vary widely from one child to another. For many children, parents are encouraged to present the initial interview as a time in which they are going to check out an, after-school, gym program, in which groups come together each week to play creative, non-competitive games. Depending upon a child’s level of tolerance and self-awareness, parents may also mention that group leaders will also work to help them learn to make friends more easily and to feel more confident. A child’s first exposure to our program is during the initial interview. While some children may be anxious about the program prior to the interview, it is structured in a way so that most children will enjoy themselves and will look forward to returning as a member of a group.