One of the things that gives me great pleasure as the director of In Step is our therapist’s dedication to community education. So many of them speak at schools, churches, and local events throughout Loudoun and Fairfax counties. They volunteer their time to educate families and professionals about topics we see every day at the practice. After 20 years, I can say that we have had conversations in the community about almost everything you can imagine. We talk about social skills, of course, but also stress, anxiety, bullying, social media guidelines and most recently-how to talk to your teen to get them to actually talk back (talk back, not back talk). One of the most rewarding types of community service comes from requests by our own clients. We have moms and dads who want to share the information from their parent groups with other families and clients who feel that the tools they have been given would benefit others.
In some cases, the work we do attracts the attention of organizations whose focus is connecting its members to each other in a meaningful way. In fact, that’s how Melanie Kaplan, LCSW, was asked to speak at the June meeting of TAP – the autism partnership. She is the leader of a young adult group in our Sterling office. TAP “is an adult life skills program that is planned, organized, and run by autistic self-advocates. Adults with first-hand experience of the challenges of autism teach other autistic adults a variety of life skills that can help autistic adults live not only independently but successfully.” As a therapist who has a great deal of experience with adults on the spectrum, she is uniquely qualified to offer guidance to this population.
Melanie is going to be talking with them about teasing, bullying and sarcasm. This is an important topic for everyone, but for folks on the spectrum-who sometimes struggle with social cues in general-it can be particularly uncomfortable. She will be joined by a host of adults who attend events sponsored by the Autism Society of Northern Virginia, many of whom are self-advocates and are on the spectrum themselves. Here is the website if you would like more information about that meeting or the young adult groups at In Step.
I have always enjoyed the different venues I speak at personally. My feeling is that showing up to an event on a Friday morning at the Parent Resource Center or a Monday night at your child’s school, means that you are motivated to make the changes necessary to have a happier, more peaceful family life and if you are willing to take that time, so am I.
Dara, my Associate Director, wants me to point out that you can contact her if you have an event you would like to talk to us about. Her email is email@example.com.