Our Friendship Foundations program was developed in response to requests from families seeking individualized coaching prior to or in between our group programs. These individual sessions are offered to children ages 4-6 and their parents/caregivers. Children’s strengths and interests are at the forefront of our approach as we help families to address current needs in early social learning for children who are communicating with at least short sentences. Sessions are offered by senior speech-language pathologists with extensive experience in parent and child coaching and school consultation. The Foundations program is tailored to each child and family’s specific interests, needs, and learning style, and focused on 1-2 key areas of need determined collaboratively with families. Sessions are delivered virtually and may include informal assessment, discussion and goal setting, parent coaching, parent and child sessions and communication with other involved professionals. Children are NOT required to be able to sit to engage with the speech-language pathologist virtually, but should be able to play with their parent(s) within the screen view of the speech-language pathologist.
The Foundations program includes 8 sessions, scheduled once weekly for 60-90 minutes. These may be followed by an additional 4 sessions if requested and families are encouraged to join our group programs as appropriate following participation in this program. This allows families to maximize funds and learn in different ways within our Connections SLP community.
Program requirements: At least one parent/caregiver must participate regularly with their child as strategies build from week to week. This program is not intended to be an ongoing individual therapy service to address a variety of communication goals, but rather a foundational program prior to entering our group social learning programs.
Program availability: Friendship Foundations is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Sessions are scheduled at select times during the day, after school or on Saturdays depending on family need and clinician availability.
The Foundations program helps parents and kids learning and practice the building blocks of friendship, such as:
- Increasing social engagement
- Building longer interactions and keeping them going
- Expanding and varying play and conversation interests and skills
- Building flexibility and self-regulation skills
This research-based program, created by The Hanen Centre®, is for children ages 5-8 and their parents. Children enrolled in this program should be speaking in lengthy sentences and ready to work on higher-level social communication skills. The program includes a combination of nine group parent-only evening sessions and four daytime individual parent-child sessions. In the parent-only sessions, adults focus on learning specific strategies to support their children’s social interactions. Weekly personalized take-home plans help parents to use the strategies learned in the evening sessions during everyday family routines and activities with others. The parent and child coaching sessions help parents to practice the strategies they have learned. During these sessions, parents are supported by the speech-language pathologist course leader through Hanen’s unique video feedback process to help them see and learn which strategies work best to support their child. This program is appropriate for all children who are experiencing social learning challenges and have strong language and cognitive skills. A diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder is not required to participate in this program at Connections SLP. The program is not appropriate for children with receptive or expressive language or cognitive delays due to the abstract nature of the content of the program. This program includes a pre-program parent and child individual consultation.
Program Requirements: One or both parents must consistently participate in all parent sessions and the parent-child video coaching sessions. Unfortunately, parents may not alternate attendance in this program due to the cumulative nature of the content. We are excited to provide the TalkAbility™ Program Offered via Telepractice to families in Ontario and Alberta at this time.
For general information about this program, please visit
Parents enrolled in this program will be coached to use strategies to support their children as they develop skills to:
- Use and interpret non-verbal communication
- Participate in longer and richer back-and-forth conversations
- Share special interests during interactions with others
- Expand imaginative play
- Notice and interpret others’ perspectives
- Build flexibility
- Participate in play dates that are fun for everyone
PlayGreat @ Connections SLP
PlayGreat is our very own, very unique program for children in grades 1-6 who are ready to learn and talk about making and keeping friends. We help parents use their children’s strengths and interests as they create and coach successful playdates and get togethers. Through our focused parent-coaching approach, adults are supported in using practical strategies to help their children to build skills they can immediately apply in everyday social interactions with peers while developing a more comprehensive understanding of the components of friendship. Our format allows us to zero in on what is most important to you and your child right now during parent and child sessions while helping you to apply the foundational friendship skills explored in our parent-only evening sessions. This unique combination of learning opportunities results in parents and children working together to support the development of friendship skills.
Families who have completed programs such as TalkAbility™, who have been involved in social skills groups for children only, or who are seeking a “way in” to help their children form relationships with peers will benefit from this program. We know that it can be challenging to see your child struggling with other kids, and parents may feel that the strategies they have used in the past are no longer beneficial. The program includes an individual parent and child consultation session to set goals and discuss strengths and needs, followed by a combination of evening group parent-only sessions and daytime coaching sessions for parents and their children as they engage with peers.
Evening sessions focus on helping parents to create a personalized tool box of strategies that can be used to support children as they move toward fun and personally meaningful playdates or get togethers with peers. Individual daytime sessions for younger children provide supported practice for parents as they coach their children during an interaction with a peer. Individual sessions for older children may include supported parent coaching during a get together and/or parent and child planning and reflection before and after a get together. We’ll help you focus on the skills that your child needs to make and keep friends.
We are delighted to offer all sessions for this program in a live, online format at this time. Individual session structure and goals will be adapted as needed given Covid-19 gathering restrictions.
Parents enrolled in this program will:
- Use their child’s current strengths and interests to help support friendships
- Understand the building blocks of making and keeping friends
- Learn about ways to help their child find friends
- Determine a friendship focus to help guide the strategies they use to support their child before, during and after playdates/get-togethers
- Learn to support their child’s developing self-regulation, executive functioning, play and perspective-taking skills during interactions with other children
- Help their child develop awareness of their own friendship skills through social coaching conversations
- Offer their children just the right level of coaching and understand how to add or lessen support as needed
The PEERS® Program
The Program for the Education & Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS®) is an evidence-based program for preschoolers, adolescents and young adults on the Autism Spectrum as well as those with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), anxiety, and other socio-emotional challenges. Developed at UCLA by Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson, and offered in more than 70 countries, it is one of the few evidence-based, parent/caregiver-assisted social skills programs. We are pleased to offer the PEERS for Adolescents® Program at this time.
PEERS for Adolescents® involves weekly group sessions currently offered online for motivated older elementary (grades 7-8) and high school-aged students experiencing difficulties with friendship. Each session concludes with a plan for real-world homework to apply and practice what they have learned in the group. Parents attend separate weekly sessions and are taught how to assist their children and teens in making and keeping friends during weekly socialization homework assignments.
Program Requirements: Both teens and parent coaches must be able to attend group sessions once a week. The same parent coach who attends the parent session must be able to join their teen for the last 10-15 minutes of the teen session.
For general information about this program, please visit
Teens and their parent coaches will learn about:
- Developing and maintaining friendships
- Conversational skills such as entering a conversation, trading information and exiting a conversation
- Electronic communication through a social lens
- Using humour and attending to humour feedback
- Organizing get-togethers
- Being a good sport
- Handling disagreements
- Changing a bad reputation
- Handling teasing and bullying