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Balance MI-Skills offers teen and adult group training and workshops in face to face and online offerings. The following information relates to all communications and soft skills for employment opportunities:

  • Evidence-based practice behavioral and cognitive approaches using direct and Socratic instruction, live and video modeling, rehearsal, coaching feedback during in-session practice, and pre and post session data collection to inform learning and individualized programming.

  • Learning focuses on teaching prerequisite skills and promoting maintenance and generalization to build more complex skills.

  • Communication and soft skills for employment topics covered vary by offering and may include: effective two-way conversations; initiating, maintaining, and ending conversations; finding common interests, small talk, and topic shifts; non-verbal, verbal, and electronic communication; differentiating types of friendships and engaging in meaningful relationships, dating, and interacting with co-workers and supervisors; controversial topics and proactive problem solving; self-management, conflict management, and making mistakes; flexible thinking and acting; maintaining a positive attitude; using humor effectively, bullying, and teasing; strategies for reducing anxiety; integrating self-advocacy for greater independence throughout all learning.

  • All individual (one-on-one) sessions focused on goals of participant to enhance communication toward greater self-advocacy and independence.

  • Employment support in preparing individuals for jobs; generalizing soft skills taught into a work environment; developing employment settings, providing job coaching and development; job sampling; job shadowing; and customized integrated employment.

  • Proven (evidence-based) methods used by therapists with expertise in specific behavioral procedures including direct and Socratic instruction; shaping behavior by prompting (using prompting hierarchy) and fading prompts while using effective reinforcement strategies; task analysis with data collection and decision making; priming for content; behavioral momentum; generalization; individualization of programming.  

Teen & Adult Services

Group services and workshops for teens and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, anxiety disorders and difficulties, and other social skill challenges. Skills are taught to enhance friendships, relationships and dating, and while interacting with co-workers and supervisors in a work setting. Many of the skills needed are considered "universal", or needed across different situations. Similar age peers participate as social coaches both in group sessions and for out of class practice assignments. Other areas covered are related to more effective communication and soft skills for employment including having conversations and small talk; non-verbal and verbal language; using electronic communication effectively and safely; proactive problem solving; organization, self-monitoring, and self-management; reducing anxiety; being flexible; and integrating self-advocacy throughout the settings.

Parent Groups. Parent groups are facilitated separately for teen-based Foundations classes based on parent interest. Parent sessions can be held while the class is running or virtually at a different time when parents find it more convenient. Parents learn about the curriculum and how to support their teen in learning new social and communication skills. Parents practice the skills and are trained on important independence skills their teen can gain while becoming a young adult through greater self-advocacy, higher expectations, and self-management. Parent sessions will be arranged as classes are scheduled.

Teens and Adults with More Complex Needs. Group services also offered for teens and adults with more complex intellectual needs using a modified curriculum with sessions offered more frequently, with smaller groups, for shorter periods of time, are greatly individualized, and focus on key communication skills that may be important to daily interactions and employment.  

Individual Services

Individual services may be available for some teens and adults. The continued goal is to learn and practice in peer-based groups. This helps with learning and generalizing skills and knowledge then applied to personal, community, and work-based settings. Sometimes it may be helpful to start skill building in a one on one (or individualized) setting, with the goal of moving to a group with peers in a group or workshop. This is not needed for every individual participating, but may be an option to better prepare for a group setting.

School-Based Services

Social, communication, and employment preparation classes conducted during class time typically in the student's group support hour (e.g. core support, resource hour/time, skills class, other--this name varies by school). Classes also held for students with more intellectual impact (DD, ID, CI). Integrate peers from school for communication and skills coaching. This model has been implemented with a number of schools in Michigan and can be modified to meet the need of the school and students.

  • Classes length: from 35 minutes to 65 minutes 

  • Class frequency: from 1 time per week to 3 times per week

  • Class time period: from 4 weeks to 20+ weeks, depending on agreed upon schedule 

After School Services

Social, communication, and employment preparation classes conducted immediately after school, at school building.  Classes also available for students with more intellectual impact (DD, ID, CI). Peers are integrated into training and communication coaching. Content is varied and customized based on agreed upon curriculum. Core content:  conversation basics (verbal, non-verbal, electronic); having conversations (starting, ending individual and group conversations); small talk and topic shifts;types of friendships, relationships, and dating; positive attitude and team work; being flexible and proactive problem solving; using humor effectively; controversial topics; reducing anxiety, self-management, and self-advocacy; and more.

  • Classes length: from 1, 1-1/2, to 2 hours 

  • Class frequency: from 1-2 times per week 

  • Class time period: from 6 weeks to 10 weeks, depending on agreed upon schedule 

University-Based Services

Workshops offered typically in partnership with disability services at colleges and universities covering communication and employment skills needed upon leaving college. Content includes learning and practicing important social and soft skills for employment including having conversations and small talk; recognizing meaning of non-verbal and verbal language; using electronic communication effectively; proactive problem solving; self-management and monitoring; recognizing types of relationships and dating, friendships, in employment settings; and integrating self-advocacy throughout the workshop. Workshops can vary in length from 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 hours, meeting 1-3 times per week; over 6 to 10 weeks. We can be flexible based on need of program.  Workshop facilitated in the past at Central Michigan University (CMU) and Grand Valley State University (GVSU) Peer LINKS program. 

KEYS Peer Mentoring Program (Keep Empowering Yourself for Success)

A social and peer mentoring community-based opportunity offered monthly for individuals who have completed one of the communication skills groups offered by Balance MI-Skills, or taken part in one-on-one sessions. Sessions are held in the community where time is spent engaging in social or recreational activities with group members and similar aged peers. Communication concepts learned in the group training are integrated into the program to increase generalization and self-advocacy where individuals set personal communication goals and practice in natural settings in the community. 

Employment Skills and Support 

Individual services to support individual in an employment setting or in preparing for an employment setting. Services could include job sampling, job shadowing, supported employment, or customized employment. Supports are customized for the individuals needs and could include priming prior to job environment, job coaching supports, and training.and educating employers. 

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