Social Squad

A Research Based  Curriculum and Approach to  Social Communication for ages 5-21 years, includes the IMPACT Social Communication Rating Scale

sarcasm

Detecting sarcasm, deceit, bullying, discriminating between funny and mean sarcasm, reading facial expressions and tone of voice of sarcasm, using sarcasm appropriately

Conversational Adaptation

Identifying/understanding situations where conversation needs to be adapted to meet the needs of the listener, asking for clarification, providing sufficient contextual cues, etc

emotions

Reading emotions based on facial expressions, tone of voice, prosody and expressing emotions using expected facial expressions and prosody

empathy

Understanding and expressing empathy, reading facial expressions and tone of voice of empathy, identifying situations when empathy is expected, expressing empathy using expected tone of voice and facial expressions

Negotiation and Compromise

Identifying/understanding situations that involve negotiation and compromise. Understand that words affect others and may hurt someone’s feelings.

idioms and expressions

Identifying/understanding situations where idioms and expressions are used. It is important to remember it is okay to ask for clarification.

Program Highlights

The program is designed for students between the ages of 5 and 21. The beginner treatment folder is recommended for younger children aged 7 to 12;11. The advanced student treatment is recommended for older students between the ages of 13 and 21. Of course, it is recommended that clinicians consider both chronological and developmental age when administering the treatment. That is, if a series of videos is more suitable based on the student’s developmental age versus chronological age, it is acceptable to use that series of videos.

The program provides easy step by step instructions to follow each week. We use a highly intuitive and simple intervention platform to make it easy to navigate between topics and lessons.

The program follows a step-by step sequence that requires minimal prep time. Fun worksheets, quizzes and progress tracking are included. 

Our programs have been clinically used and field tested with children and teens (between the ages of 5 and 21) with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Social Communication Disorder, Emotional Disturbance and Intellectual Disability.  Read our published work.

The Social Squad can be accessed with annual $79 membership or a monthly  $19 membership. It also includes the IMPACT Social Communication Rating – a standardized assessment tool that helps evaluate potential impact on educational  progress.

Social Squad membership  includes the IMPACT Social Communication Rating Scale that helps examine how social communication may affect everyday social interactions and/or academic performance as required by IDEA

The program includes quizzes and social communication progress notes that help track student progress

This program focuses on teaching how to read and use facial expressions and vocal inflections, using visual bombardment, selfies and role-plays

The Social Squad program uses a peer-mentored approach to teaching and modeling appropriate social skills and social language. In this program, typically developing students act as mentors to explain in easily accessible language what went wrong in various social situations and explain how the concept of social mind and big heart can help imporve social skills and make new friends.

Frequently asked questions

No. The program contains two separate folders for younger and older students that contain social scenes filmed separately for each age group. The beginner treatment folder is recommended for younger children aged 5 to 12;11 and it features younger student actors. The advanced student treatment is recommended for older students between the ages of 13 and 21 which features older student actors. Of course, it is recommended that clinicians consider both chronological and developmental age when administering the treatment. That is, if a series of videos is more suitable based on the student’s developmental age versus chronological age, it is acceptable to use that series of videos.

Of course, the Social Squad membership  includes the IMPACT Social Communication Rating Scale that helps examine how social communication may affect everyday social interactions and/or academic performance as required by IDEA. Read more about the IMPACT Social Communication Rating Scale

Yes, the Social Squad may be used with students as young as 5 years old.

Absolutely! The advanced student treatment folder is recommended for older students between the ages of 13 and 21 which features older student actors.

Yes, the programs includes many visual and auditory bombardment videos that teach how to read and decode facial expressions and prosody. 

The Social Squad can be accessed with annual $79 membership or a monthly  $19 membership. It also includes the IMPACT Social Communication Rating – a standardized assessment tool that helps evaluate potential impact on educational  progress.

if you have further questions about our programs, please  Contact Us

What Our SLPs Have to Say

"I finally found a product that many of my high school students across a diverse population of disabilities can benefit from in the area of social skills therapy. These hands on videos teach a variety of social skills using actual video footage the students can listen to, watch and interpret instead of looking at a 2-dimensional photo card that is flat. I highly recommend this product due to its functionality for social therapy and it's usefulness across ages, especially high school."
Andrea Grout, MS, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist
"I love how much time this video program saves! It's so easy to use and saves hours of prep time. Perfect for my social communication groups!"
Alyssa Dixon, MS, CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist
What a lifesaver! I’m always struggling to find practical materials for my pragmatics groups. There are only so many times I can read out hypothetical situations or role play. This program really makes the concepts easy to understand for my students. They watch the situations unfold and have a better understanding of how to interpret facial expressions and vocal intonations. It’s just been such a great addition to my arsenal of therapy materials. Plus (and most importantly), it’s research based! Thank you for this product!
Michelle Santiago, MS, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist
"An effective, research-based social skills program that is easy to use! A must-have resource for all SLPs! " .
Helena Pelayo, MS, CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist

WELCOME

The Social Squad created by The Lavi Institute is a social communication curriculum designed for students who demonstrate difficulties/differences with everyday social language. Our world is full of conversations and opportunities to be social, yet sometimes we have difficulty understanding and expressing social language as expected. Students may be confused on how to interpret a friend or family member’s comments and decode facial expressions, or students may not know how to react to such comments (both verbally and visually). That’s where The Social Squad (SS) comes in. This approach aims to not only target the basics of social language but also target important concepts such as empathy, sarcasm, bullying, conversational adaptation, negotiation, and idioms, and so much more that will help our students thrive and become the social beings they are destined to be. The SS is a groundbreaking pragmatic language approach that incorporates technology in the form of videos to help students decode facial expressions and practice their own facial expressions. Some of the highlights of this program included the use of age/developmental level videos, the use of peer mentors for each concept, the practice of facial expressions using a mirror and/or camera to take a selfie, and the flexible conversation between clinician and student. Whereas other programs may target the basics (i.e., happy, sad, mad), the SS goes above and beyond to target more specific emotions (i.e., disappointed, excited, supportive, uninterested, and sarcastic).

You will notice this manual does not include many references and this is purposeful. This program was designed by clinicians for clinicians. We know how busy life can be and sometimes we have limited time for reading. This manual is organized to be user friendly and the program is designed for working clinicians and practitioners (e.g., Speech-Language Pathologists, Counselors, Clinical Psychologists, etc.). We want you to get straight to it and let our students do the talking. If you would like to learn more about the evidence regarding these concepts, please go to our research page

The program is designed for students between the ages of 5 and 21. The beginner treatment folder is recommended for younger children aged 7 to 12;11. The advanced student intervention is recommended for older students between the ages of 13 and 21. Of course, it is recommended that clinicians consider both chronological and developmental age when administering the treatment. That is, if a series of videos is more suitable based on the student’s developmental age versus chronological age, it is acceptable to use that series of videos.

Each grouping of videos includes five topics that are each targeted for two to three weeks. If a student requires more focus in a specific area, it is recommended to modify the structure of the program to meet each individual’s needs. The five targeted topics include:

  • Empathy – Understanding and Expressing Empathy
  • Sarcasm – Detecting Sarcasm, Deceit, Bullying
  • Conversational Adaptation
  • Negotiation and Compromise
  • Idioms and Expressions

The SS program is heavily rule based and focuses on two key concepts: social mind and big heart. Social mind refers to an individual’s ability to read and detect social cues. Big heart refers to an individual’s ability to understand, be supportive and demonstrate mindfulness and empathy.

Part of the program includes the use of “selfies” (i.e., photos) and this can be done with a camera/smartphone or using a mirror. It is important to remember to obtain written parent consent before using a camera/smartphone and to remember to delete all photos/videos at the end of treatment.

Phase OneAt the beginning of treatment, two key concepts are introduced and discussed: big heart and social mind. Big heart refers to a student’s ability to understand and demonstrate mindfulness and empathy. Social mind refers to a student’s ability to read and detect social cues. The flash drive will contain videos to teach each of these concepts at the very beginning of intervention. Additionally, worksheets will be provided (see Appendix) to assist in the learning of these topics. Once the student has demonstrated an understanding of these two concepts, the five topics are introduced in Phase Two.

Phase TwoAfter students demonstrate an understanding of social mind and big heart, the five topics are introduced. The order of these topics and the length of time each topic is focused on may vary. Each topic is designed to be targeted for two to three weeks.

Sample Parts of Lessons

Lesson 1: Social Mind and Big Heart (Younger Group)

Welcome to the Social Squad! Today you will be starting the first lesson of the program. 

To begin, you (the clinician) will introduce the program to your student(s). Explain to your student(s) that over the next few weeks, we will be watching some videos and having discussions of what makes a great communicator and how to make friends. As we go along watching videos, other students will share their thoughts on how to be a great communicator and talk to others. Sometimes, we will see videos where something goes wrong and we’ll discuss what went wrong and how we can fix it. We’ll also role-play different scenarios – we’ll practice or rehearse situations as if they were happening to us and demonstrate the correct way to handle a situation. We’ll learn about to two concepts. The first is called, “social mind.” To have a social mind is to be able to read and detect social cues. The second is called, “big heart.” To have a big heart is to understand, support, and demonstrate mindfulness and empathy. In order to learn about social mind and big heart, we’ll begin by watching videos of faces and discuss what we think each face tells us. Next, it’s “selfie time” and we’ll practice making faces in a mirror or on our phones.

Let’s get started! It’s time to learn about social mind and big heart. Start the first video now (read out loud the sentences in the video to your student(s). After the video, have a discussion with your student(s) and  use the companion worksheet. 

Intro Video - prerequisite of the program

Now, move on to the next steps outlined in the “Empathy” section. But don’t forget to check out and discuss Dr. Blake Brandes Social Mind/Big Heart Rap below…

New!!!!! Dr. Blake Brandes Music about Social Mind

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Blake Brandes, PhD to the Social Squad!

Dr. Brandes is a TEDx and youth motivational speaker, as well as a music producer and student leadership expert. He believes that the power of music can connect with young people in a meaningful way.

Working alongside Dr. Adriana Lavi, Dr. Blake Brandes has created motivational pieces based on each Social Squad lesson!

These motivational pieces can be used as rewards and as inspiration at the end of each session. Clinicians should ask students to discuss each song and also encourage students to write their own lyrics. Link to Music Beats is available below the video.

Lyrics:

Got a social mind… and a big heart
Let’s connect, now’s the time to kickstart
Lift off, we about to rocket (rock it)
Let’s talk about your passions and your favorite topics

Like… what is it you love to do? 
What makes you feel comfortable?
When are you untouchable? 
Ha!  I’ll eat it up like a Lunchable 
Ask you questions and I’ll remind you that you’re lovable 

Yeah, and when you’re feeling down
I’ll let you know I’m there – I like having you around
You don’t need to change your feelings or conditions
I’m not trying to fix it, I’m just here to listen

So let’s go, get this show on the road
Heart set aglow so it just might explode
I’m in a social mode – I can see it on your face
It’s a friendSHIP so let’s sail to outer space (ay!)

Lesson 2: Empathy (Younger Group) - sample role-play video

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