Cherish Clinic receives a lot of requests for social camps for neurodivergent children.  Interestingly, when I ask neurodivergent adults what they think about the idea that we put a bunch of neurodivergent kids together for therapeutic purposes…That’s the face they make.

While the intention behind social group requests is understandable, it’s important to clarify that socialization is complex, deeply interconnected with individual and cultural experiences, and best developed through natural and day-to-day interactions.

  • Socialization isn’t something that can be effectively “worked on” in isolation or a structured classroom or clinical setting
  • Children do not learn to socialize neurotypically through osmosis. The experience has to be highly individualized and the context has to be compatible to their needs and preferences..
  • Match making is “cringe”. Neurodivergent social compatibility is highly specific.

Yes, there are programs like Social Thinking, but Cherish Clinic is explicit that we do not endorse social programs that attempts to modify neurodivergent authenticity into neurotypical conformity. We do not teach “social skills” but we provide a neurodivergent cultural experience and facilitate a social experience that demonstrates to the participants that they already know how to socialize and the way they socialize is perfectly fine.  Through their experience, they would know what social context works best for them and feels the best.

The Economy of Social Groups

Consistent with our anti-oppression framework, I want to be fully transparent about the economy behind how private businesses monetize children’s group experiences.

Considering how the cost is relatively fixed, it is in the best monetary interests of the clinic to put as many children into a program as possible.  You can hire a couple university students and underpay them. Alternatively, you can charge a lot more if you have a licensed therapist deliver the same programming and call it therapy.  As long as you can maintain some semblance of order and entertainment, the group is considered as success.

Personally I think most of the generic social groups are scams. 

Questions to ask yourself

1. Do the descriptions of the camp match my child’s specific needs and interests VERY SPECIFICALLY?

2. Will the environment (physical and social) be compatible with their nervous system needs and preferences? 

3. How many participants? What is the support ratio? 

4. What does the facilitator of the group bring to the group?  Are they just an easily replaceable employee or does this group experience have a special meaning for them?

5. Do my child actually want to socialize and make friends or do I just think they need it? 

6. Would I need to convince or compel my child to attend this event? Do I have their informed consent?

Cherish's Approach to Group Experience

Here is a list of successful groups we have facilitated. These are highly successful by the participant’s feedback (and not just the parents’ feedback) because we invest an inordinacy effort into the specificity of the group experience, our participants had designed the camp, and we are very selective about matching participants.

If you have a group idea, make sure to contact us!