Yachad Presents ‘Revamped Social Skills’ in Brooklyn, Teaneck, and Cedarhurst

16 Oct 2012


Yachad | Jewish Disabilities Integration/NJCD, the OU’s agency for individuals with learning, communication and social needs, today announced its newly expanded and revised Relationship Building Course (RBC) to take place this fall in Brooklyn, Teaneck, and for the first time, in Cedarhurst.

“It’s all about social skills,” says Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, National Director of Yachad. “If we want to help people with developmental disabilities lead more successful lives, we have to teach them how to relate to others.”

The Brooklyn classes, to be held in Flatbush, are set to begin Monday, November 12; in Cedarhurst, Tuesday, November 13; and in Teaneck on Monday, October 22.

• Brooklyn RBC:
Jewish Union Foundation, Day Hab Program
1122 Coney Island Avenue, 2nd Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11230

• Long Island RBC:
555 Willow Aveune
Cedarhurst, NY 11516

• New Jersey RBC:
New Jersey Yachad Office
1345 Queen Anne Road
Teaneck, New Jersey 07666

RBC offers an optimal student/facilitator ratio with staff from the social work, psychology, school counseling, and/or mental health counseling fields. Beginners, intermediate, and advanced classes will run concurrently at each location so that participants of varying social-skills experience can join RBC at the start of each semester and be placed in the group most appropriate to their needs.

Launched in 2001, RBC’s social skills-building curriculum for Jewish adults (ages 18+) has helped scores of individuals with developmental disabilities become more proficient at forging lasting friendships and improving their performance at work. In addition to enhancing its program, RBC will introduce Chaverim, a new division that includes individuals across the autistic spectrum who require a more intellectually-appropriate approach.

RBC began in response to a number of older Yachad members expressing an interest in getting married. “Before they get to an intimate relationship, they need to learn the foundational social skills for successful communication,” says Dr. Lichtman.

To that end, RBC courses cover such timely topics as social media, Internet safety, and online etiquette, as well as beginners and advanced communication skills — including how to join a conversation; private versus public topics of conversation; and conflict resolution. During each session, participants enjoy a catered dinner together; with the support of the facilitators, they are encouraged to practice and apply the social skills they are learning.

The new and improved six-semester course, consisting of two-hour experiential sessions, allows members to graduate into an advanced socialization program after three to four years and to graduate with a certificate. The curriculum includes:

• Semester 1: Relationships
Identifying what constitutes a friend, acquaintance, and stranger; navigating these relationships in diverse settings, including in-person and via social media.

• Semester 2: Beginning Communication and Conversation Skills
Introducing oneself in the workplace, community, shul, and social event; starting a conversation; entering a conversation already in progress; gaining skills in eye contact; and honoring personal space.

• Semester 3: Understanding of Social Cues
Developing emotional awareness of self and others; identifying emotional cues of others; navigating stress; appropriately dealing with others’ feelings including anger, in-person and on social media.

• Semester 4: Advanced Communication and Social Media Skills
Differentiating between private versus public topics of conversation; reinforcing appropriate topics between friends versus strangers and acquaintances; learning appropriate written expression via social media, email, phone, and text messages.

• Semester 5: Advanced Social Cues
Navigating one’s own as well as others’ emotions during conflict; anger management; coping with disappointment and hurt.

• Semester 6: Self-Advocacy
Tying together all of the strides made in the development of conversation, emotional and social cue recognition, and interpersonal skills (in-person and via social media); utilizing these skills in positive self-expression and self-advocacy in the workplace, at home, and in the community. Participants graduate to Yachad’s advanced social program.

RBC plans to offer a dating and marriage curriculum in the winter of 2013.

All participants in the New York classes — new and returning — must complete pre-registration and intake requirements in their entirety no later than Monday, November 7. Space is limited.

To inquire about the new RBC program or to set an intake appointment, contact Deborah Berman, LCSW, Senior Social Worker of Yachad at 212.613.8172 or email bermand@ou.org.

For RBC in Teaneck, NJ, contact Chani Herrmann, Director of New Jersey Yachad, at 212.613.8373 or email Herrmann@ou.org.

OU | Enhancing Jewish Life