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Social Enjoyment Groups for Children, Teens and Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders Guiding Toward Growth

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Book - Social Enjoyment Groups for Children, Teens and Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders Guiding Toward Growth

by: John Merges

About the author:

John Merges is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, currently working in private practice with young people with ASD and their families. He is based in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota.

ISBN: 978-1-84905-834-6

Year: 2010

Publication Info: 208pp


Young people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) often feel uncomfortable and anxious in social situations, but socializing with classmates and colleagues can be made easier – and more enjoyable – with Guiding Toward Growth group sessions.

John Merges’ simple yet effective program for teaching social enjoyment skills is based on the concept that there are ten hurdles that make it challenging for people with ASD to enjoy social interaction. This book guides the reader through planning, running, and assessing group sessions that have been designed to help participants overcome these hurdles, interact with confidence, and ultimately enjoy more independent and fulfilling lives. As social interaction is a vital element of any work environment, this book also teaches young adults with ASD an important employment skill.

This adaptable book can be used with a wide range of ages and communicative abilities, and will be an invaluable resource for all professionals working with groups of children and young people with ASD.



Acknowledgments. Part I Introduction and Guiding Principles. 1. Beginnings. 2. Enjoyment – A Skill. 3. The Band of Regulation. Part II The Hurdles. 4. Introduction to the Hurdles. 5. Keeping Things the Same. 6. Attention Challenges. 7. Emotional Regulation Problems. 8. Organization Deficits. 9. Language Processing Issues. 10. Associative Thinking. 11. Sensory Sensitivities. 12. “Unlearning” Rituals. 13. Stereotyping by Neurotypical Individuals. 14. Motivational Deficits. Part III FunJoyment Groups. 15. Introduction to FunJoyment Groups. 16. Concepts Important in All Groups. 17. School-Based Groups for Five-, Six-, and Seven-Year-Old Youngsters. 18. School-Based Groups for Seven- through Eleven-Year-Old Youngsters. 19. School-Based Groups for Junior High and High School Students. 20. Notes About Community-Based Groups. 21. Community-Based Groups for Ten- and Eleven-Year-Old Youngsters. 22. Community-Based Groups for Junior High and Senior High Students. 23. Community-Based Groups for Older High Students and Young Adults. Part IV Materials and Activities. 24. Sample Permission Letters. 25. Scoreboard. 26. Activities for Five-, Six- and Seven-Year-Olds. Big Dice. Ask to Play. Charades. Ask for Help. Ask to Share. Interrupting an Adult. Bean Bag Toss. Activities for All Other Groups. A Through Z Game. Apples to Apples. Bean Bag Toss. Bocce Ball. Dominion. First/Last Game. Frisbee. Golf. Imaginiff. In a Pickle. Introductory Questions. Killer Bunnies. Kinder Bunnies. Loaded Questions. Mr. M’s Minefield. Mr. M’s Uno. Moose in the House. Password. Perudo. Pick It. Pit. Question Cards. Smart Ass. Sort it Out. Tsuro. Turnabout. Twenty Questions. Up the River.



John Merges has a wealth of knowledge in working with and advocating for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders Students who have attended reported their enjoyment in the social interactions and the friendships that they have developed during the group. Elements of John’s strategies can be readily applied and duplicated in the school setting.


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