Epic Kids, Building Early Communication and Social Skills

Epic Kids, Building Early Communication and Social Skills

Listen with us as Summer McMurry, founder and CEO of Carolina Pediatric Therapy and Catherine Tintle, Speech-Language Pathologist as they discuss to our newest EPIC program called EPIC Kids, a social skills group for children ages five-to-eight. (Listen on Apple iTunes & Google Play).

 

 

Podcast Transcript

Summer McMurry:

Hello, this is Summer McMurry. I’m the Founder and CEO of Carolina Pediatric Therapy, and I’m here this morning with Catherine Tintle, Speech Language Pathologist, here at Carolina Pediatric Therapy, and this morning we’re here to talk about EPIC Kids, our new program. So, good morning, Catherine.

Catherine Tintle:

Good morning. How are you?

Summer McMurry:

I’m great. I’m great. So, I want to remind people about the EPIC. The EPIC stands for an acronym, is E-P-I-C, and that is engage, play, interact, and communicate. Catherine, you reminded me this weekend, that we just celebrated our 10th class of EPIC Saturdays. Ten months ago, we started that program. So, this is a new one that was birthed out of that. So, tell me how we kind of got to EPIC Kids.

Catherine Tintle:

Well, I’m very excited that we’ve had 10 EPIC Saturdays, and been doing it for almost a year, because we’ve been trying to get it started for about three years. Just in that process of getting kids signed up and talking with parents, I was getting a lot of interest for a younger group. So, you know, I was like, “In a perfect world, we would have it for all ages, and I just don’t have time for that.” And then, I had a great conversation with one parent one day, and said, “You know what? We’re just gonna do it.” So, I wrote the description real quickly, and the next month we had five kids signed up. We’re very excited about this new group. It’s kind of, a new area for me, as far as social skills, but it’s just more, a basic level of things that I’m already working on with the older kids.

Summer McMurry:

Okay. So, tell me what areas we’re covering with … It’s a little bit different from EPIC Saturdays, and your kids who are nine to 13 is the age for EPIC Saturdays, and EPIC After School programs, which we also watch the school year, but then, for the five to eight year olds, what’s a little bit different about this age group?

Catherine Tintle:

It’s kind of the same themes, but in a more basic way. So, if you think about for EPIC Saturdays, we’re working on skills that you need in the workforce as an adult, as a student, to be able to interact with others, and problem solve, and be able to communicate effectively with them. You also need those skills to play. So, we’re really focusing on using play skills, and teaching those basic skills, and early metacognitive skills, and thinking about other people’s thoughts, and by the way, people have thoughts, and what is a thought. Just learning how to compromise. How to share space with others. How to interact effectively, and be aware of others in your space.

Summer McMurry:

Okay, and then also, about joint attention, because joint attention is one of those really foundational pieces of engaging socially with others. Joint attention sometimes … Another word for that is shared attention, for parents who don’t know. So, tell me a little bit about joint attention, and how you might focus on that.

Catherine Tintle:

So, joint attention is actually a precursor to using words. So, a lot of younger kids who aren’t speaking will focus on joint attention, because if you think about if you’re pointing to something, that’s your way of telling nonverbally, “Hey, I want you to look at that.” And then the kids is acknowledging, “Oh, they’re aware of their thoughts.” And say, “Oh, he wants me to, or she wants me to look at that thing.” So, you’re sharing a thought together.

So, we’ll talk about we have thoughts, and we can have thoughts that are the same as others, and thoughts that differ from others. If we’re playing with blocks, and one child is thinking about building a block tower, and the other kid’s not thinking about the kid playing with the block tower, but the kid’s thinking, “Ooh, I want to knock that over.” So, he runs up and kicks it over, and then, Oh, you have a conflict.

So, you have to point those things out in the moment, and say, “Oh, in that moment, you know, were you thinking about the other child, or were you thinking about your plans?” It’s really fun to practice that, and create little small problems that they work through. Is it, do we play, Don’t Break the Ice, or do we play, Don’t Spill The Beans? We have to compromise, in order to figure out what we’re gonna do first, and talk about, does it have to be your way, or are you willing to be flexible, and do it someone else’s way maybe, that you’re not something that you don’t want to necessarily play, like your favorite game, but you’re willing to do that, in order to interact and hang out with others.

Summer McMurry:

Right, and to make a friend.

Catherine Tintle:

Yes. This is basic friendship skills. We’re creating small problems, so they can then work through. It was funny, the first one, the things I thought they would struggle with, they did not care about losing a game. They cheered on the ice. The man fell through the ice, and so I had to be flexible in my thinking, and kind of realize what was the struggle? And it happened to be not thinking about other people’s thoughts, when maybe someone had a toy, that one kid wanted, but the other kid was playing with. They weren’t thinking about, “How do I say that to them?” They just were thinking about their own thoughts, and just would grab it. So, we can stop and say, “Oh, how do we use your words? It sounds so simple, but it’s pretty complex, if you break it down into the metacognition of it.

Summer McMurry:

Right, okay. So, as far as the program is concerned, and the things that we’re focusing on for those five to eight year olds. We’re looking at things like, the conversation skills, friendship skills, the metacognitive skills, which again, define that for families. Metacognitive.

Catherine Tintle:

That’s just thinking about thoughts, and being aware that you have thoughts. It sounds complex, but for a child, by age four, they should be able to understand that when you smile, that represents a feeling, or an emotion of happiness, or if you’re making your grimace, you’re feeling frustrated. Just awareness of your thoughts, and then, as you progress, awareness of other people’s thoughts, and how do you know? How do you look for clues, to figure out how people are feeling, and what they’re thinking, is looking at facial expressions, and talking about different tones, and explicitly explaining what those mean.

Summer McMurry:

Okay, and then cooperative, and imaginative play, self-regulation, nonverbal language, and tone of voice. Tone of voice is probably a big one with little [inaudible 00:05:34]. Okay, so are there any other things that families might need to know about, how a session might go?

Catherine Tintle:

We’re in the OT Sensory Gym, and we also have some smaller treatment rooms. So, we’ll have a Lego room set up, or a Play-Dough room, and then the gym, and so the kids decide as a group what they want to do, and then within that smaller space, we can make decisions about different things. So, we’re hanging out playing. As you interact, things arise, and we work on them as they come up. Each session has an overarching theme.

Summer McMurry:

Okay.

Catherine Tintle:

Our first theme was, People Have Thoughts. Well, what is a thought?

Summer McMurry:

Okay.

Catherine Tintle:

So, we use thought bubbles, and talk about, “Oh, what do you think he’s thinking, and how can we tell?”

Summer McMurry:

Right. So, really basic foundational social skills there.

Catherine Tintle:

With the Legos, you have little Lego people, and so, we talk about imaginative play. The ability to pretend that you are a person, and that person is talking. That’s a perspective taking skill, that you’re, that’s not me. That’s someone else, and I’m pretending to be that person, is a huge skill.

Summer McMurry:

Okay, great. Well, it sounds like a lot of fun. My son came by, and participated in one of the programs this past Saturday, just spontaneously.

Catherine Tintle:

He can come by anytime.

Summer McMurry:

Yes, and he had a great time learning about his other new friends, that he made today at EPIC Saturday. So, this is EPIC Kids. It is again, for children ages five to eight.

Summer McMurry:

So, if you’d like to find out more about EPIC Kids, go to our website at, carolinapeds.com, and click on the link to EPIC Kids, and that one’s the one for kids age five to eight. There is an EPIC Saturday link for children, ages nine to 13.

Catherine Tintle:

And one more thing. You don’t have to have a diagnosis, or eligibility. Anyone can come, because we can all benefit from learning how to be better social communicators.

Summer McMurry:

Absolutely. Well, thank you, Catherine. Thanks for joining me this morning.

Catherine Tintle:

Thank you.

Summer McMurry:

And families, if you have any questions, please check our website out, or give us a call at (828)-670-8056.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email