Cross the Bridge to Social Communication at CommuniCamp!
We are now accepting applications for the February 2019 Program! Click here to apply now!
CommuniCamp™ is a 3+ day Intensive Group Treatment and Parent Training Program to help children and teens ages 3-15+ (at every level of communication e.g. shut-down and non-communicative, nonverbal, somewhat communicative, etc.) with Selective Mutism, social anxiety, and extreme shyness speak in school and other social settings. Based on 20+ years of experience treating Selective Mutism using Social Communication Anxiety Treatment® (S-CAT®), the evidence-based treatment approach created by world-renowned Selective Mutism expert, Dr. Elisa Shipon-Blum, we will help your child, tween, or teen build the social communication skills necessary for school, the real world, and at home.
The CommuniCamp™ Mission is two-fold: 1) treatment in small, peer-groups in a school for children and teens and 2) parent education, training, and support seminars:
Intensive Group Treatment:
Over the course of a three-day weekend (5 hours/day, 15 hours total), our professionally trained counselors, under the direction of our lead clinicians, work directly with two-to-three campers on social comfort and confidence to instill social confidence, increase communication, and facilitate learning of coping skills using S-CAT® based strategies using each camper’s individual baseline for social communication. Through these strategies and by removing the expectation for speech and respecting each camper’s baseline, our campers see and hear themselves communicating confidently in a peer-group school setting which translates to their school environment when they get home.
Parent Training, Education, and Support Seminars:
While campers undergo treatment, we simultaneously provide 15 hours of intensive parent education, training, and breakout support sessions so parents can immerse themselves in the world of Selective Mutism and learn strategies, ask questions, share stories, receive support, and feel confident implementing the goals, strategies, and interventions the entire family learned at camp, at home.
100% of parents rated CommuniCamp as “excellent” and 100% of the parents highly recommend it to others!
WHEN IS IT? Presidents’ Day Weekend: February 15-18th, 2019 (click here to apply for February 2019 CommuniCamp)
WHO CAN APPLY? New and established patients! Children and teens ages 3-15+ years-old with Selective Mutism, Social Anxiety, and/or Extreme Shyness (and their families!)
HOW DOES IT WORK? The process for new families to join CommuniCamp™ is simple! See below…
This is one of many unique aspects of CommuniCamp™. This is how we are able to accept new patients directly into group treatment!
Complete the February 2019 application* so that Dr. Elisa Shipon-Blum can perform a detailed review and assessment of the application to determine if applicant is eligible for group treatment prior to being involved in our Individualized Intensive Treatment Program.
This is how we are able to accept new patients immediately into group treatment! Our globally successful, evidence-based treatment approach, Social Communication Anxiety Treatment® (SCAT®), is grounded in the understanding that Selective Mutism is more than just not speaking in social settings. A major component of S-CAT® is understanding that every child/teen is different and therefore an individualized treatment plan needs to be developed that incorporates home (parent education, environmental changes), the child’s/teen’s unique needs, and school modifications (teacher education, accommodations/interventions). Your loved one with Selective Mutism and Social Anxiety developed SM and remains “stuck” from one or more contributing factors. This application allows to start to uncover the child’s unique needs. See our FAQs to learn more about this process.
After a clinical assessment of your application, you will be notified of your status within 1-2 business days. Since established SMart Center patients have already completed the initial interviews and assessments, they are eligible to submit the application at no cost by using the coupon code: SMartPatient
*There is a $75 application fee. Your loved one does not need to have an official diagnosis to attend. Because this program emphasizes intensive, individualized treatment in small groups, the program has a limited capacity and spots are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Therefore, applicants may be placed on a wait-list if all spots are filled at the time of application submission. As openings become available, applicants will be notified and the application fee will be requested. At this point, the following steps will occur as usual.
CommuniCamp uses the S-CAT® model in a peer-group setting. After your application is thoroughly reviewed, you will be eligible for one of three meeting options (in-person or virtual dependent on clinical recommendation based on application) with one of our clinicians to deepen our understanding of your child’s unique social communication needs so that we can determine ideal group placement and identify and plan for the proper treatment strategies to utilize during CommuniCamp™. This will help foster a comfortable, fun, and therapeutic weekend. There is a minimum fee of $300 for this step. More detailed information will be sent upon application acceptance.
After your meeting is completed and your CommuniCamp™ acceptance is confirmed, we will create your child’s unique experience. CommuniComfort is the approach we use at the SMart Center, modeled after concepts within Dr. Shipon-Blum’s S-CAT® Program, to help campers build social and communication comfort in a given setting or with an individual. Before, during, and after camp, purposeful, specific strategies are used to help ease each child’s specific anxieties, which will foster social comfort in a school-like setting and hence, communication.
*The meeting (and fee) is waived for SMart Center families who’ve been seen within 6 months to 1 year. Upon acceptance of application, the meeting may or may not be necessary pending clinician determination.
Aspects of the intake and CommuniComfort process unite with a Welcome & Orientation Party the night prior to camp where campers and parents will meet their counselors, fellow campers, and tour the facility. Therapeutic, S-CAT® strategies are incorporated into this pre-camp event so we recommend arriving to the Philadelphia area the afternoon before the first day of the program.
During CommuniCamp™ (after camper drop off), parents will meet each day with Dr. Elisa Shipon-Blum and our clinical staff for educational and support sessions. Parents will receive hands-on training and learn proven treatment strategies with goal charts, opportunities to ask questions, as well as time to connect with other parents. Campers will have a detailed schedule each day (9AM – 2PM) that consists of fun games and activities to foster social comfort, confidence, and progression of communication in a school-like setting. Campers work directly with their counselors and clinicians in their small groups or paired with buddies, as well as participate in pull-out sessions with our clinicians.
After the event, parents will receive:
- Recommendations for next steps
- Relevant handouts to supplement their CommuniCamp™ experience to take home and share with the school
- Charted goals
- A check-in call with the camper’s counselor
- Eligibility for individualized, monthly follow-up (we consult with out-of-state families via web-conferencing)
Once a family attends CommuniCamp™, they are considered part of the SMart Center Family and are officially established SMart Center patients. They are therefore eligible to participate in individual treatment, receive school-based services, etc. Services include psychoeducational, neurodevelopmental, and speech and language testing. Learn more about our services by clicking here. Families are also eligible to attend a future CommuniCamp™ with no application fee and no meeting step/fee.
Application: $75.00 (non-refundable)
*The application fee is waived for established patients as they’ve already been reviewed and assessed with the SMart Center.
Intake Interview: $300.00 ($100 non-refundable deposit upon scheduling and $200 due at intake)
**The intake interview and fee is waived for SMart Center families who’ve been seen within one year. For SMart Center families seen over one year ago, upon acceptance of application, the intake interview may or may not be necessary pending clinician determination.
CommuniCamp™ Program: $1,800.00 ($300.00 non-refundable deposit to secure enrollment and $1,500.00 due 30 days before camp)
“Amazing! Very compassionate and understanding. My child felt safe and loved camp! She felt understood, as did the parents.”
“This weekend was worth every penny – it surpassed my expectations.”
“Other therapies have no real world applications – CommuniCamp has mostly real world applications – and it works. My child had never done a camp like this before and it was extremely beneficial – practically and emotionally.”
“Great info – I feel this was the missing link that we needed, as a family, to continue on our journey.”
“I was surprised with the number of professionals and educated counselors – it was wonderful. I felt that the SMart Center did a fantastic job giving the kids the help they need in a really fun way!”
“She loved spending time with the kids she met; at the park, restaurant and pools. Thank you for encouragement and helping us get together with other families!”
“THANK YOU for giving us this opportunity – we are excited to learn that our child is making sounds in a group!”
“My child was very proud of herself. She gained a lot of confidence here.”
“They have a very educated staff, who all have an actual understanding of the issues AT HAND.”
“My child came away from camp so happy and excited to come back – she doesn’t want to go home yet!”
“SM is not understood for the most part in our society – so, the knowledge that we gained was very needed, and much appreciated!”
“Thank you for your passion and making your purpose to help our children be all that they can be in their lifetime! The support is amazing.”
“The counselors demonstrated ability to accommodate the unique needs of my child – and the ability to bond and promote opportunities.”
“It was great to have a good review of the techniques we’ve used over the years and how we can go back to those old techniques to reach the next level.”
“Amazing to see my child interacting with other children at the park, talking and totally comfortable. She loves CommuniCamp!”
“The counselors were very accessible and available for questions and individual concerns.”
“My daughter asked daily if we can come to camp every day!”
“I’m very happy with how camp went – I had wanted my child to meet other kids like her, and get a nice confidence boost!”
“Provided guidance that I could not find locally – gave me a starting point to navigate.”
“Thank you for your positive attitudes and knowledge on the topic!”
“This experience has been really eye opening and we learned so much.”
“Now I have new ideas to take back to the teachers.”
“Staff to camper ratio was very good – also had very positive attitudes.”
“It was great to help us begin understanding S-CAT – this is new to us and we want to ensure we are not prohibiting or blocking her progress because of misunderstanding of what she needs.”
“I ditched all of my plans to tour Philadelphia, and got to see a really happy child with her new friends at the afternoon playdates– which was MUCH more awesome than touring Philadelphia!”
Frequently Asked Questions
Once an application is accepted, our licensed clinicians perform a detailed intake evaluation interview that determines eligibility for CommuniCamp, confirms diagnosis, and determines the child’s individual needs for group placement in the camp.
Typically, if a child meets the diagnostic criteria for Selective Mutism or social anxiety disorder, etc., is toilet trained, understands English, can separate from a parent/caregiver, and does not have developmental delays that will affect participation, he/she will most likely be accepted.
Please note: For established SMart Center families who have been seen within on year, an intake interview is not necessary
Absolutely not! The SMart Center DOES NOT require “lead-in” sessions to participate in CommuniCamp! The steps to CommuniCamp are as easy as 1-2-3: Apply-Meet-Attend! Because our treatment philosophy, Social Communication Anxiety Treatment® (S-CAT®) is grounded in the understanding of SM as a social communication anxiety disorder where child/teens are not just mute, our group treatment is accepting all child and teens at every stage of social communication (per Dr. E’s Social Communication Bridge®): barely engaging, nonverbal, somewhat communicative, whispering, etc. Our CommuniComfort process begins before you even get to camp to help your child build the comfort necessary to feel safe and secure!
Absolutely no. Children with SM have a social communication anxiety disorder where their level of communication will change from setting to setting. Dr. Elisa Shipon-Blum’s S-CAT® approach focuses on the Stages of Social Communication. Stages vary from noncommunicative, nonverbal, transitional and verbal. AS a long as a child can interact, at least nonverbally after warm up time and are approved via our intake process, your child can participate. Your child’s level of communication will dictate group placement and strategies used.
Application: $75.00 (non-refundable) fee for our clinicians to review and assess the application.
The application fee is waived for established patients as they’ve already been reviewed and assessed with the SMart Center.
Intake Interview: $300.00 ($100 non-refundable deposit upon scheduling and $200 due at intake) fee for our licensed clinicians to determine the child’s unique social communication needs and ideal group placement. In addition, the intake allows our clinicians to plan for the proper treatment strategies to utilize during CommuniCamp™.
The intake interview and fee is waived for SMart Center families who’ve been seen within one year. For SMart Center families seen over one year ago, upon acceptance of application, the intake interview may or may not be necessary pending clinician determination.
CommuniCamp™ Program: $1,800.00 ($300.00 non-refundable deposit to secure enrollment and $1,500.00 due 30 days before camp) for three days of group treatment. Children will be paired with a counselor and work directly with our licensed clinicians to learn valuable skills to foster comfort, progression of communication with a few peers, and within a small group setting. Children will be paired/grouped with children who are similar in their social communication skills to be around those who understand. They will feel safe, have fun, play games, do art and movement activities, make new friends while learning valuable skills to cross the Social Communication Bridge! At the end of CommuniCamp, children will celebrate their successful completion of CommuniCamp by having a ‘make your own sundae’ ice cream party. They will feel proud as they receive their ‘Crossing the Bridge’ certificate from their lead clinician. Also, parents receive charted goals each day and information to take-home. Parents will receive a support calls within a month after camp from their counselor to check in to determine how goals are going and to add much-needed support.
**Please note that families will have the opportunity to meet up after camp at local parks, restaurants and play areas. This opportunity is wonderful for both children and parents! As parents shared at our most recent camp, “Seeing my child run, play and talk to her new friends was something that i will never forget!” And ‘I loved the connections I made with parents. It felt wonderful to share experiences with others who understand.”
YES! Since parents are critical in the treatment process, we pride ourselves on the level of education and support we provide parents during CommuniCamp! Parents will have the opportunity to ask questions, learn valuable information about Selective Mutism and understand the key philosophies to a successful treatment outcome. Parents will be taught step by step goals that are recommended for success when ‘away’ from camp. We discuss relevant topics, parents share their stories and everyone learns from one another. In addition, each day after camp, parents are provided locations where other families will meet and ‘bond’ with each other while children do the same. Parents from previous camps shared the following: “I was eager for my child to meet other children like him, but i never realized I too would benefit so much from meeting other parents. What a surprising benefit of CommuniCamp!” and “This was truly the missing link that we were searching for. Thank you so much for this incredible experience.”
If you are already working with one of our professionals at the SMart Center, then you just have to register for the camp.
Both the application and the intake evaluation are not needed. Therefore, Fees are waived for both the application and intake because your child has already been evaluated at our center and we are aware of his/her needs!
Therefore, as an established SMart Center patient, your only steps for signing up for CommuniCamp are:
1. Complete the application and indicate you are an established patient at the end of the form by using the coupon code: SMartPatient when prompted.
2. Wait for your email confirmation.
3. Once approved and fees are paid, attend the program!
As a specialty medical practice, the SMart Center does not accept medical insurance plans. Our professional services are considered out-of-network with all insurance providers.
We are happy to provide receipts to families for submitting to their insurance companies for possible reimbursement. We suggest you contact your insurance carrier and inquire about your out of network coverage, any deductibles that must be met, whether you need a letter of medical necessity from your child’s pediatrician, or any limitations on coverage. Email CommuniCamp@SelectiveMutismCenter.org for sample receipts. It is the family’s responsibility to work with their insurance provider to see if CommuniCamp is eligible for possible reimbursement based on your specific plan using the following codes:
90849 Multiple-Family Group Psychotherapy: Group therapy for parents to be trained in behavioral techniques to implement at home and in the real world, to help maintain and generalize treatment gains. Parents are provided with feedback about their child’s behaviors and specific techniques tailored to the child.
90853 Group Psychotherapy: Group therapy treatment per day for three consecutive days, similar to a day treatment model.
Yes. We welcome families from all over the world to take part in our S-CAT® programs. There are many affordable options, including ‘low cost’ housing for accommodations near our center in Jenkintown, PA. [Places to stay near the SMart Center]
Our CommuniCamp program is specifically designed to provide families with the time to practice evidence-based S-CAT® strategies out in the real world. Families are encouraged to explore the great city of Philadelphia, as they journey across the Bridge to social communication! [Things to do in Philadelphia]
We understand that comfort precedes communication. CommuniComfort is the approach we use at the SMart Center and modeled after concepts within the S-CAT® Program to help children build social and communication comfort in a given setting or with an individual. This process begins weeks prior to the start of camp to help the child feel comfortable with their counselor. Then, prior to camp and during camp, purposeful strategies are used to help ease anxiety which will foster comfort and communication amongst campers and counselors
The popular S-CAT® Program was developed by Dr. Elisa Shipon-Blum and is an individualized and intensive program (average visits 3-7) for children/teens who suffer from Selective Mutism, Social Anxiety and extreme shyness. The S-CAT® Program is based on understanding SM as a Social Communication Anxiety disorder. The S-CAT® Program has been researched and published in a peer-reviewed article of a pilot study demonstrating its effectiveness was published in 2016.
At CommuniCamp, the evidence-based S-CAT® philosophies will be used in an intensive, camp-like setting, where children will have the ability to interact in small groups with their fellow CommuniCamp participants. Working with both highly-trained, graduate-level counselors led by our licensed clinicians, participants at CommuniCamp will experience a truly unique opportunity for treatment. Over the course of just 3 days (5 hours of camp per day for a total of 15 hours of treatment), CommuniCamp will incorporate S-CAT® strategies into fun, camp-like games and therapeutic activities that will help each patient develop social confidence and move across the Social Communication Bridge® during the program. Children will have fun and make new friends, while at the same time, work on strategies needed for success within the real world and at school. CommuniCamp will provide children (and their parents) with the tools to utilize these strategies once they leave the program as well!
CommuniCamp has limited space available, as the program emphasizes small group treatment. Payment of your deposit reserves your child’s space in the program. As a result, the SMart Center requires the full program payment is paid at least 30 days prior to the start date of CommuniCamp™. Cancellations prior to 30 days before the start of program will receive a full refund. Cancellations with less than 30 days’ notice will not receive a refund. If you are notified that your child has been accepted into the CommuniCamp program, but have decided that you no longer wish to participate, you may call the SMart Center (215-887-5748) to cancel your registration up to 30 days before the scheduled CommuniCamp start date for a full program refund. This does not include the non-refundable $75 application fee, $100 intake deposit fee, or program deposit. No refund will be given to those that cancel within 30 days of the CommuniCamp start date. Only established patients may apply without an application fee by providing the correct coupon code.
Cancellations due to inclement weather or medical emergencies: With proof of travel challenges, e.g. flight cancellations, a credit will be applied to the following CommuniCamp™ program and/or S-CAT® Individual Intensive services. If a medical emergency arises, we will address on a case-by-case basis and if documentation of the emergency is provided such as a doctor’s note, funds will be applied to the following CommuniCamp™ program and/or S-CAT® Individual Intensive services. No refunds will be given in the event of inclement weather prior to or during camp, or medical emergencies.
Counselors can lead the child to the restroom (we will have scheduled bathroom breaks and communication boards present in the campers assigned room); however, counselors are not able to physically assist at the toilet. Parents are welcome to be present in a designated wait area away from the activities of camp. A counselor can contact you to then assist your child.
Parents are encouraged to leave between sessions. We will be providing recommendations for local things to do; however, if a parent chooses to wait, there is a designated parent waiting area away from the campers.
Yes! The majority of CommuniCamp™ families offered to speak about their experience with potential campers. Please send an email to CommuniCamp@SelectiveMutismCenter.org and we’ll be happy to share names and emails of families who’ve attended our program. You can also click here for reviews and video testimonials!