Core Workshops

Core Workshops: Build Stuff and College Support

The Build-Stuff Workshops are for young men and women with social and communication challenges. We focus on craft/artistic, miniature, electronic, costume, story or other creations that involve planning and construction. Assistance is provided to scope, plan, complete and effectively communicate individual projects.

Students in Core Workshops meet once a week for four hours in small groups of five to eight students with initially one-on-one support.

Many of our students are initially VERY resistant to doing anything other than their (usually very small number of) preferred activities. Therefore, we start with their ideas and facilitate choosing a project. The workshops begin with an exploration of interests: what does the student really like to do, read about or dream of creating?

Individuals on the Autistic Spectrum often have difficulty applying themselves to tasks in which they have no personal interest. In school they excel in some classes and fail at others. Their success rate is directly proportional to their interest.

Paradoxically, individuals on the Spectrum can have difficulty making progress on tasks which they find very interesting due to issues of self regulation – managing excitement, handling their own distractibility, etc. We encourage students to fully explore their interests and we assist them in learning new skills and coping strategies that will allow them to successfully pursue those interests. The process also provides them with greater insight into their own strengths and weaknesses as workers and students and allows them to take action to remediate some of their weaknesses.

Over the course of a project (Some projects take weeks, others months) each participant will create a detailed design, a project budget, and a production schedule. In the context of their projects, we will explore and practice communication skills – written, spoken, photography, video – that will be applicable to the work place.

Rather than mandating social interactions or creating artificial social situations, we facilitate naturally occurring interactions and conversations in the context of Autistry Studios activities. The longer workshop sessions and the meal break help create a friendly, comfortable environment where students feel more at ease expressing themselves. After a few weeks the students begin to initiate conversations on topics of interest to them and they discover that others share their interests. This discovery of commonality is the beginning of the creation of a social cohort. We encourage the students to stay in contact with each other outside of the workshops. Over time we encourage and have seen students share their talents and skills to help each other succeed.

Workshop facilities and power tools will be provided. Students may have to purchase any specialized tools and materials their projects require. We will provide shopping assistance and those items would be the student’s to keep.

After students have a few projects under their belts we start assigning more complex tasks and gently including team work as part of the projects. Additionally, we maintain some large background projects (small sail boats, huge model airplanes, huge models a.k.a. Bigatures) that students may contribute time to during the obligatory glue/paint drying times on other projects.

College Support

Our Friday workshop is a combination of the Build-Stuff program described above with embedded support for any college courses the student is working on. We have supported students attending College of Marin*, Dominican University*, San Jose State University, Sonoma State University*, and Santa Rosa Junior College (* = students graduated!).

College SupportAs students become more independent they may add attending on Sundays for no additional charge. The sessions meet year round, are 4 hours and include a meal break.

Each session includes a weekly review of homework assignments as well as instruction and support for time management strategies, study skills and organizational skills. There will be follow up throughout the week via email, text and phone messages.

Kris and Dan Study the Gun PlansWe will encourage peer mentoring – students helping each other navigate the college social and academic environment.

Additional individual tutoring is available in several subject areas including Math, Science, Computer Programming, History, and English.

Both Build Stuff and College Support Workshops are examples of our practice of Project Based Therapy

 

Past Projects:

Steven’s Factory on a Cloud
Nick’s Model Train Layout
Devon’s Portable Theater
Sarah’s Dreamscape