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5 Things to Look When Enrolling Children in Social Peer Groups

At Resolute Therapy Collaborative, we offer peer groups that promote interaction and foster relationship building opportunities for children using a neurodiversity affirming approach. Historically, "social" groups have been implemented but sometimes miss the mark on promoting relationship building by instead promoting masking for individuals to appear more neurotypical. Masking occurs when neurodiverse individuals consciously or unconsciously work to appear neurotypical in order to blend in and be more accepted by society. Masking has been reported by some neurodiverse individuals to have a negative impact on their mental health.

Disclaimer: Not all social groups promote masking, but it is important for families to be able to evaluate differences in peer and social programs before determining which may be best for their child.

Here are 5 things to look for when deciding if a social peer group is neurodiversity affirming:

  1. The group is designed to help children access peer interactions and play in whatever manner the individual child prefers. In neurodiversity affirming peer groups, children are not encouraged to play with toys or with peers in "one typical way". Instead, children are encouraged to engage with peers in whatever way is most accessible to them.

  2. The group uses identity first language (ex. "autistic children" vs. "children with autism"), speaks about children from a strengths based perspective rather than deficit based perspective. For instance, neurodiversity affirming peer groups do not try to "fix" children's social skills to appear more neurotypical.

  3. Children are encouraged to participate but never forced.

  4. It is recognized that all children have different support needs, so strategies and accommodations are provided to each child in a unique way.

  5. All communication styles are accepted meaning gestures, verbal speech, and AAC are valid methods to communicating in groups.

Interested in joining a neurodiversity affirming peer group? Resolute Therapy Collaborative hosts peer groups in Virginia Beach, VA! Send us an email

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