Our son is 18, and dually diagnosed with mild Intellectual Disability and PDD-NOS(on the spectrum). We have been working with Tara for the past six months, having learned about 2 Be Social from another client. As simple as it sounds, Tara gets it! She gets what skill deficits Kevin has and understands why. We were quite familiar with the teachings of Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking, but hadn’t been able to find someone who was well versed in this approach to helping our son. Kevin looks forward to going to his sessions, unlike many other therapies. His enthusiasm is because of Tara’s demeanor, and what she is able to teach him, giving him a whole new insight to social communication.
A few things that I like about the sessions: Tara always has an agenda for the session and reviews this with me as the parent at the end of the session; she uses visual mediums (e.g. television sitcoms) to process through the social interactions, observing verbal and non-verbal language and this resonates well with Kevin; Kevin can bring real life social problems to her and they work through the matter.
In all the years of social skills and therapeutic services Kevin has had, this is the very first time he is truly understanding what he needs to do differently. All to often the onerous has been on Kevin’s behavior’s and those seen as a problem, rather than addressing the root of the problem, the social thinking. Already we can see Kevin thinking differently.
We would highly recommend Tara’s services not only for instructional sessions but also as a member of the IEP team. Tara has conferred with school based therapists to help bridge the learning between these environments. Wish we could have Tara full-time!!
Cheryl and John F. West Chester, PA
Parents of an 18 year old
I am writing to let you know how happy I am with the progress Brody has made as a result of his work with 2 Be Social. Brody and the rest of our family could not be happier with the progress he has made with his social thinking and functioning.
As you know Brody is 22 and he is one of those high functioning people who don’t immediately jump out at casual acquaintances as being on the spectrum. His journey has been difficult as awareness of the autism spectrum and effective treatments was sparse during his early and young childhood. If fact, he was diagnosed with Inattentive ADHD, then Asperger’s, the PDD-NOS, and finally at age 17, the correct diagnosis as Non-verbal Learning Disorder.
Regardless of the label, once I realized he was on the spectrum at around age 11, I tried all the recommended social skills interventions, but none provided any meaningful benefit. He was almost always the highest functioning kid in the social skills groups, so while they were good for getting him out of the house and around other kids, and they did make him appreciate that he is not more disabled, they didn’t help him build stronger social skills. I read success stories in books, but upon further investigation found out that the practitioners offering these programs were across the country or charged such a high hourly rate their programs were out of reach for a middle-class family. By the time he was 16, we had both pretty much given up on social skills therapy because there was no affordable option in our area that was designed for intelligent, high functioning people on the spectrum.
When I heard about 2 Be Social’s approach, I was so excited because it sounded like just the thing to fill that crucial therapeutic gap in social thinking and social skills that we had been hoping to find. Over the course of his time working with you I have seen significant improvement in every area he needed to work on. He went from not having the self-confidence to even fill out a job application himself to independently finding and obtaining an internship at a tech company, and then with your help and guidance, getting a job where he works with the public. He has been successful at this job for six months now.
On the personal front, I have heard so many comments from family members about how much more social, confident, open, and engaged he is. He has become closer to his younger brother and engages with him on a much deeper level, having developed the awareness that it is important that he does not withdraw from him and the empathy to understand that it will feel like rejection if he does. Recently a relative who is also in their early twenties was having a crisis and Brody shared some heartfelt and insightful observations about that person’s struggles and how they might be feeling with that person’s parent, who then called me to tearfully tell me how much she appreciated his caring and insight.
I can’t thank you enough for providing this innovative and effective therapy. I only wish that we could have started him on this at a younger age. I look forward to his continued success as he works with you on each step of his journey towards fulfilling his potential to live a happy, successful, and most importantly, connected life.
Jen M., West Chester PA
We have known Tara Trievel for five years, as a teacher, administrator and currently as a social skills advocate. She is an excellent voice for children and young adults.
Our son, Brendan, is a high functioning autistic. He struggles with interpreting interpersonal forms of communication, notably nonverbal. He perseverates on a topic and has had limited success with reciprocal conversations. This has limited his success in making and maintaining friendships.
Brendan, in the past five years under Tara’s guidance, has begun to share in conversations(not monopolize), learned to express himself in his writing, and developed friendships. Recently, through his social skills sessions with Tara, he is learning to evaluate other’s feelings by using nonverbal cues. He is learning to embrace life after the structure of high school with less anxiety and attempting to control his anxiousness in order to articulate his feelings in a productive, meaningful way.
We will continue to look to Tara’s skilled sense of being able to tune in and help Brendan find his voice. She is a calming presence and really works with our family to shed light on Brendan’s social struggles. We are very grateful to her for working with him so Brendan can enjoy a happy, dynamic, and successful life.
Please do not hesitate to contact my husband Dennis or myself should you have any questions. Tara is amazing and we are thrilled with Brendan’s progress.
Colleen and Dennis, Newark DE
Learning with 2 Be Social has been such an amazing learning experience. I was reluctant to try it at first because I thought it was going to be about social skills, which I have tried in the past and has never worked for me. This approach is different. It’s about developing the brain and making connections and understanding what behaviors are expected and unexpected. It teaches me to try and think about what OTHERS may be thinking about ME. (Which goes against my “rulebook”, as I’ve always been one to not care about what others think about me. However, I am learning that it is a natural instinct anyways, and I can CHANGE the way people think about me so that it works to my advantage.)
The first day that I started social cognition lessons, I had at least five of those “a ha!” moments. It has been SO eye opening. For instance, I had NO idea that most believe that scratching your feet in public is not expected. I was shocked to learn this. Apparently, many people don’t like feet. Another example of what I learned is that there are lots of levels of friendship. I always thought there were MAYBE one or two. (stranger or friend.)
I can honestly say that social lessons with Tara has changed the way I see the world, and helped me to figure out how to change the way the world sees me!
Erin C., West Chester PA