Virtual CommuniCamp™: Same Evidence-Based S-CAT® Strategies Facilitated in a New, Virtual World.

Virtual CommuniCamp™ is our web-based INTEGRATIVE treatment and training group for Selective Mutism, Social Anxiety, and extreme shyness. Virtual CommuniCamp™ allows families to participate from the comfort of their own homes, which is the perfect environment to facilitate progression into social communication since home is where our children are often most comfortable and communicative. Virtual CommuniCamp™ embodies the two-fold mission of our traditional CommuniCamp™ meaning this event:

  1. integrates group experiences to help children gain comfort and communication with other peers and adults through activities often mirrored within the virtual classroom, via virtual playdates, and the “new world” of social distancing we are beginning, and Virtual CommuniCamp™
  2. involves parent training and implementation during camp, as parents are asked to participate within the ‘virtual classroom’ experience. Virtual CommuniCamp™ fosters parent observation, training, and facilitation (featuring Dr. Elisa Shipon-Blum and Jennifer Brittingham, M.A.) while SMart Center clinicians and counselors lead and role model communication progress using Dr. E’s evidence-based S-CAT® strategies and interventions.

Date/Time*:

  • Friday, June 19th, 2020
    • 11:00 AM ET – 1:00 PM ET – Parent Training
    • 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM ET – Camper Orientation, Meet & Greet
  • Saturday, June 20th, 2020 (11:00 AM – 5:00 PM ET) – Virtual CommuniCamp™ Day 1
  • Sunday, June 21th, 2020 (11:00 AM – 5:00 PM ET) – Virtual CommuniCamp™ Day 2
  • Monday, June 22nd, 2020 (11:00 AM – 5:00 PM ET) – Virtual CommuniCamp™ Day 3

*The structured daily agenda involves both parent-only training sessions as well as child group sessions. Optional (but encouraged) independent camper activities as well as movement breaks before and after lunch break will be offered. Details of the agenda (daily activities, times, and breaks), Welcome Guide to prepare for Virtual CommuniCamp™, and additional supplemental resources are provided upon registration confirmation. Keep scrolling for more details on the process to enroll, pricing, and what to expect from the program!

What are the benefits of attending Virtual CommuniCamp™?

  • With travel restrictions still in place, Virtual CommuniCamp™ allows families from across the country and abroad to participate in CommuniCamp™ from the comfort, convenience, and safety of their home. As many regions slowly re-open, social distancing and stay-at-home orders are still a high priority. That’s why we designed Virtual CommuniCamp™ to help parents and children learn skills to develop social comfort and progress communicatively in all areas. Opportunities to build and expand on social communication are still endless–even in our new world of social distancing and distance learning. Virtual CommuniCamp™ provides fun, interactive, group-treatment to campers and their family to be able to succeed in and outside of the virtual environment many of us have found ourselves in.
  • Virtual CommuniCamp™ integrates the hands-on and personal experience of an evaluation with the group treatment, training, and experience of CommuniCamp™. Our goal is to help families learn, experience, and practice evidence-based S-CAT® skills to make social communication progress via a virtual platform as well as within the real-world.
  • Virtual CommuniCamp™ meets children where they are with their communication comfort level within the real-world and virtual world. We will provide a plan with next steps to continue that communication whether out in the world or via a virtual platform. S-CAT® strategies are able to be adapted to any environment to help our children and parents to develop coping skills for their own unique situation.
  • Virtual CommuniCamp™ provides parents with hands-on training of how to help their children within the virtual world to expand their communication with peers, teachers, friends, and extended family. Strategies are practiced and discussed with Selective Mutism experts daily.
  • Virtual CommuniCamp™ mirrors virtual group activities such as virtual playdates and distance learning. Building comfort and communication skills for the classroom environment is key for our children as many are using distance learning and virtual platforms now and may continue with many virtual group experiences throughout the summer, and even when they (possibly) return to school on a modified or virtual school schedule in the Fall semester. Virtual CommuniCamp™ will help our children to build comfort and confidence to join virtual group settings as well as prepare for onsite engagement when we resume.
  • Virtual CommuniCamp™ encourages camper-to-camper interactions as well as parent-to-parent support to enhance the Virtual CommuniCamp™ experience as well as provide continued friendships and virtual playdates for continued communication growth after camp. Additionally, post-camp follow-up care and support opportunities are available to continue camper progress.

Is parent education and support included within Virtual CommuniCamp? If so, how?

Absolutely! Parents meet each day with our lead clinicians for 2+ hours and then participate with their child during the virtual activities. We also provide optional, but encouraged, parent lunch sessions. This is a popular aspect of our onsite CommuniCamp™! Parents will eat lunch on a video-conference with the parents of children in the same age range (led by a counselor). Parents also receive daily goal review and discussion to conclude each day. Finally, parents who participate in Virtual CommuniCamp™ are eligible to join clinican-lead parent support groups in the weeks following Virtual CommuniCamp™ as well as a one-on-one session with their CommuniCamp™ Counselor to review progress.

With Covid-19, we may have limited opportunities for real world activities, does it still make sense to attend Virtual CommuniCamp™ or CommuniCamp™ this summer?

Yes! Although the way we engage within the real-world has changed, S-CAT® strategies are designed to meet campers ANYWHERE and utilize available opportunities to increase comfort and communication. Communication progress is NOT canceled or postponed–it’s happening now! We are still visiting the grocery store, waving hi/bye to people on family walks, ordering and picking up food, interacting with teachers/peers online, taking virtual music lessons, and more! Virtual CommuniCamp™ teaches and demonstrates how to implement strategies in both our “old world” as well as our new, virtual world to prepare our children for whatever social engagement opportunities become available (and to prevent regression when we return). Our SM experts will help families create action plans to prepare for social communication platforms as they will most likely be modified as we move forward. Examples include increasing comfort and progress into speech during playdates/get-togethers with peers both in-person as well as virtually, participating with teachers and peers one-on-one, and within virtual and regular classrooms, becoming proactive, participatory, and communicative in stores and with extended family gatherings, etc.

Virtual CommuniCamp™ will therefore focus on ways to increase social communication in this ‘new’ virtual and social distancing world and also help with opportunities for the world as we begin to slowly re-engage.

What if my child is not comfortable to join on camera for Virtual CommuniCamp™?

Remember, Selective Mutism is our speciality. Our experienced clinicians are world experts and understand that some children may be hesitant and need warm up time to engage virtually. Our program is designed to help children become familiar with the virtual setting. We require one virtual meeting (Step 2) prior to the start of the program to help our campers (and their families) become familiar with the platform, counselors, and group experience, while also equipping your camper with tools to help increase comfort and engagement.

Virtual CommuniCamp™ is both a parent and child camp! The activities, interventions, and education are offered to teach parents and camper’s new ways to engage, and new language to use to discuss comfort and communication, even our slow-to-warmup campers will benefit!

I’d like to signup. Where do I start? What’s the process? How much does it cost? 

The process to enroll in Virtual CommuniCamp™ and the cost for participation is the same as regular CommuniCamp™! Continue reading below to learn about the simple three-step process: 1.) Apply 2.) Meet 3.) Attend!

How do I prepare my child to attend Virtual CommuniCamp™?

First, you will need to submit an application for Dr. Elisa Shipon-Blum to review. Review the process of CommuniCamp™ below. After we review your application, you will be informed of your next steps within 1-3 business days. Information for preparing you and your child for a virtual appointment will be included at this time.

Virtual CommuniCamp™ Process & Pricing

APPLY

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 application for the program you wish to attend. The application(s) are listed on this webpage. Dr. Elisa Shipon-Blum will 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.  The application also allows to start to uncover the child’s/teen’s unique needs so that we can utilize the appropriate S-CAT® strategies with respect to his/her baseline. 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.  See our FAQs to learn more about this process.

After a clinical assessment of your application, you will be notified of your status within 2-3 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 review 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.

MEET

CommuniCamp™ uses the S-CAT® model in a small group setting. After your application is thoroughly reviewed, you will be eligible for one of a few “Pre-Camp 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; however, based on clinical recommendation after review of your application, Dr. Shipon-Blum might recommend individualized treatment prior to attending the program. More detailed information and pricing 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 to help him/her build social and communication comfort in a given setting or with an individual. After your meeting is complete, we will create a unique experience to help you & your child learn how to build social communication comfort with virtual platforms, social distancing, distance learning, prevent regression, & prepare for reentry to our old ways!

*This step 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.  

Attend CommuniCamp™!

Our Orientation and Meet & Greet occurs the night prior to Day 1 of the program. Campers and parents will meet the staff, counselors, fellow campers, and get used to the virtual platform. Therapeutic, S-CAT® strategies are incorporated into this pre-camp event.

On Days 1, 2, and 3, parents meet with our lead clinicians for 2+ hours each morning and then participate during the virtual activities. We also provide optional, but encouraged, parent lunch sessions. This is a popular aspect of our onsite CommuniCamp™! Parents will eat lunch on a video-conference with the parents of children in the same age range (led by a counselor). Parents also receive daily goal review and discussion to conclude each day.

Although the way we engage within the real-world has changed, S-CAT® strategies are designed to meet campers ANYWHERE and utilize available opportunities to increase comfort and communication. Communication progress is NOT canceled or postponed–it’s happening now! We are still visiting the grocery store, waving hi/bye to people on family walks, ordering and picking up food, interacting with teachers/peers online, taking virtual music lessons, and more! Virtual CommuniCamp™ teaches and demonstrates how to implement strategies in both our “old world” as well as our new, virtual world to prepare our children for whatever social engagement opportunities become available (and to prevent regression when we return). Our SM experts will help families create action plans to prepare for social communication platforms as they will most likely be modified as we move forward. Examples include increasing comfort and progress into speech during playdates/get-togethers with peers both in-person as well as virtually, participating with teachers and peers one-on-one, and within virtual and regular classrooms, becoming proactive, participatory, and communicative in stores and with extended family gatherings, etc.

Virtual CommuniCamp™ will therefore focus on ways to increase social communication in this ‘new’ virtual and social distancing world and also help with opportunities for the world as we begin to slowly re-engage.

FOLLOW UP

After the event, parents will receive:

  1. Recommendations for next steps
  2. Multiple relevant handouts and webinars to supplement their CommuniCamp™ experience to take home and share with extended family, friends, and school staff
  3. Charted S-CAT® goals for the campers as well as the parents
  4. One-on-one session with their CommuniCamp™ Counselor to review progress after the program
  5. Eligibility to join clinician-led parent support groups in the weeks following Virtual CommuniCamp™
  6. 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 hereFamilies are also eligible to attend a future CommuniCamp™ with no application fee and no meeting step/fee.

For details of what is included in each step, please click on each of the above tabs.

Step 1, 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.

Step 2, Meeting: Varies dependent on meeting type and clinician, $300.00 at minimum; however, individualized treatment might be recommended at this step with fees varying in range based (A non-refundable scheduling deposit will be due at time of scheduling).
**The meeting is waived for SMart Center families who’ve been seen within 6 months to one year. This step may or may not be necessary pending clinician determination for established patients.  

Step 3, Attend Virtual CommuniCamp™ Program, $1,950.00 ($500.00 non-refundable deposit to secure enrollment and $1,450.00 due two-weeks before the program)

  • SMart Center Financial Assistance Program – Click here to learn more and apply for possible sliding fee scale.

I have more questions. Who can I contact?

Please email CommuniCamp@SelectiveMutismCenter.org with questions/concerns.