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Keep Teen Club going! It's the best program for Sean. With Teen Club he's treated with respect and not like he's different. His confidence level is so much better. He feels good about himself, that he can so things without Mom."

I've gotten valuable information from the monthly parent meeting, especially now that Andy has become a teenager and is facing so many changes.   Teen Club has made Andy feel so happy and connected that he is becoming the independent young man he has the potential to become. It's brought him confidence and ease in public.
I'm so proud of him!"

Teen Club has created a safe environment that my child can explore social interactions without feeling out of place."

Drew loves Teen Club! It has changes his life. He has made new friends and he enjoys all the activities. He feels very valued."

Join the PCDA Teen Club on Facebook!Visit us on Facebook! We have many awesome events and photo galleries there.
Just log in and type "Teen Club Pasadena" in the Facebook search bar to find us.

PCDA Teen Club

Teen Club is a socialization training program for teens, 13-17 years of age, with mild to moderate social and communication challenges to help build friendships, self-confidence, and independence in the community through the use of DIR® principles:
D = Developmental   I = Individual Differences   R = Relationship-Based

Follow the teens' lead; build on their interests.

A key feature of our Teen Club program is that the teens themselves plan and evaluate their own community activities, with staff guidance. We meet one weeknight evening each week, where subgroups of 3-6 teens brainstorm, propose ideas, persuade, listen to each other, and make decisions as a group. Every Saturday morning they meet in the community to implement the activities they've planned, which may focus on community service, socialization training, or pre-vocational interests. Small groups of three pair up with various other groups so all the teens get a chance to work and have fun with each other. Sometimes just three teens go with one facilitator. Some activities are planned weeks in advance, and some (such as a car wash) may involve the whole Teen Club with up to 40 members.

Support the teens to take the initiative.

Facilitators do not do things for the teens they can do themselves. Rather than organizing the activities or telling the teens what to do, facilitators ask them, "Now what?" The teens gain the self-confidence that comes from assessing the situation, talking it over, making a group decision, and taking the initiative to interact with familiar and unfamiliar peers and adults. These skills transfer over to other community interactions and life skills, such as ordering and paying for a restaurant meal, or making phone calls to find out what hours an establishment is open.

I: Individual differences.

Teens help at the Cure Autism Now walk
Teens help pass out information about Teen Club
at the Cure Autism Now walk at the Rose bowl .

An important aspect of building group cohesion is making the effort to understand one another and how we perceive the world. We help the teens recognize that what is challenging for one person may be different from what is hard for another. We encourage the teens to understand each other's individual differences and to make compensations, whether that means listening more closely, speaking more loudly or more softly, or encouraging a soft-spoken peer to make her views known. Teen Club establishes an environment for positive identity formation within the supportive group.

R: Relationships and affect.

In an atmosphere of acceptance and camaraderie, the teens have a powerful sense of "belonging," which in many cases they may have had great difficulty finding in school or other community settings. These growing relationships between peers are the heart of Teen Club. Expressing affect in a way that can help meet the needs of the group is a task for both staff and the teens themselves. High affect keeps meetings lively and interesting, and it encourages active banter, conversation, and kidding around between the teens that is highly conducive to socialization. When a new member arrives they are greeted with high energy and positive affirmation. It's up to the staff to set the tone for these spirited interactions.

D: Regulation (Milestone I)

A teen shares a calm moment with a dog during a community service activity at a no-kill shelter.To be able to participate, the teens must be able to regulate their emotional states well enough to be able to function in a complex social environment and be safe in the community with a 1:3 staff ratio. Some teens may have difficulty maintaining self-regulation as their excitement level increases. Usually feedback from the other teens, as well as empathic support from staff, can help a teen manage their strong feelings and overflow movements so they can continue to participate fully. Left, a teen shares a calm moment with a dog during a community service activity at a no-kill shelter. To do this she had to regulate her emotional arousal while processing the intense sights, sounds, smells, and interactive demands of functioning in a limited space with dozens of barking dogs .


Shared pleasurable activities provide an important foundation for building trust and bonding relationships. D: Engagement (Milestone II):
     "Go for the gleam in the eye"

Shared pleasurable activities provide an important foundation for building trust and bonding relationships. In the photo at right, the teens are reading maps and negotiating to plan their day at the zoo, deciding together where they want to go. Other activities that help build cohesiveness and socialization skills include picnics, parties, hiking, Frisbee golf, and other sports tournaments.

D: Two-way communication and social problem solving (Milestones III-IV)

Teen Club is a place to practice the back-and-forth of social conversation, with non-judgmental peers who are developing similar skills. In planning activities, they negotiate and engage in social problem solving, presenting ideas, persuading, and considering each other's viewpoints. Above, the teens discuss ideas for a long-term community service project. They brainstorm in a large group then break into smaller groups to negotiate and decide how to resolve their differences, taking part in groups of varying complexity .

D: Emotional ideas and logical thinking (Milestones V-VI)

In addition to reviewing previous activities and planning future events, weeknight meetings provide opportunities to discuss important topics and feelings, such as transitioning to a new school, dealing with teasing and bullying, or preparing for adult living.  Some topics can be addressed through role plays, where small groups act out situations for the other teens, including trying out different responses and exploring possible outcomes of each. Other topics of discussion include self-advocacy and understanding our strengths and challenges.

D: Higher levels of abstract thinking (VII- IX)

Like most teenagers, Teen Club members are beginning to contemplate their transition to the adult world, developing their own values and sense of personal identity. These tasks require some new ways of thinking:

Multicausal thinking (VII)
Understanding other perspectives, considering multiple viewpoints, combining ideas, negotiating, and supporting other's ideas is part of Teen Club.

In Teen Club, we explore evolving values and interestsDifferentiated grey area thinking (VIII)
Not everything is black and white. For instance, when you role play the part of a bully, you may begin to feel the bully is very angry, but maybe he's also feeling insecure. A puppy at the shelter may be happy sitting your lap, but may also be a bit sad.

Internalized standard of self over time (IX)
Teen Club members are beginning to contemplate their transition to the adult world, developing their own values and sense of personal identity. What kind of person am I? What's truly important to me? How does this affect what I will do with my life? In Teen Club, we explore evolving values and interests and how they can suggest potential vocations or career paths. The teens plan pre-vocational activities based on their interests. For instance, a teen who is interested in forensic science helped plan a visit to meet the detectives at a local police station. Above, a teen completes her first practice job interview at a community-wide Teen Job Fair.

Teen Club Discussion Topics

Teen Club Discussions are an important component of the weekday, evening meeting, in which the Teens are able to discuss topics, such as those listed here.  The discussions are based upon questions, and practice scenarios.  Facilitators encourage full participation by all the teens, and ensure respectful and sensitive discussion.

Making and Receiving Phone Calls

  • What are some reasons why we make phone calls?
  • What do you say when you answer the phone?
  • What do you say if the person you are calling in not there and you have to leave a message? What information will they need in order to call you back?
  • Practice with scenarios

How to Budget

  • What is a budget?
  • How do you develop a budget plan?
  • What is our Teen Club budget for socialization and life skills weekends.
  • Work together to identify two outings for the month while remaining in your established budget.

When and How to Call 911 in an Emergency

  • Who can help in an emergency?
  • Give some examples of emergencies. Would you call 911?
  • When calling 911-What are some questions the operator might ask? What will she need to know?
  • How do you dial 911?
  • What do you say when you dial 911?
  • What do you do if you call 911 on accident?
  • Practice with scenarios

Reviewing a Menu and Estimating the Cost of a Meal

  • Why do restaurant have menus?
  • What do you need to think about before ordering from a menu?
  • How do you place an order at a fast food restaurant counter?
  • Practice with scenarios

Staying Safe

  • Provide an overview of social circles, including teen, parents, siblings, grandparents, close friends, acquaintances, community workers and strangers.
  • Teen will be asked to evaluate which circles are safe to have certain social interaction with.
  • Questions range from who would you feel safe saying hello to, to who would you feel comfortable undressing in front of.
  • When to keep a secret and when to tell.
  • How can you protect yourself when you are feeling unsafe?
  • Practice with scenarios

Building Friendships

  • What is a friendship?
  • Identify levels of friendships (acquaintance, someone you are getting to know, boyfriend/girlfriend, close friend and best friend)
  • How do you build a friendship? (i.e. move from an acquaintance to a close friend)
  • How can you lose a friend?
  • Practice with scenarios

Fashion and Shopping

  • Why do people get new clothes from time to time?
  • What do you need to keep in mind when shopping? (size, cost, style, value, etc.)
  • How do you decide what is appropriate to wear to school, church, weekend outing?
  • How do you feel when you are complimented about your clothes?
  • What does a persons clothing tell you about them?

When You Look Good you Feel Good

  • What does personal hygiene mean?
  • What are some daily routines that include personal hygiene?
  • Why is it important to practice good hygiene?
  • What do you do to stay clean and well groomed?
  • How does good hygiene help you make a good first impression?
  • Practice with scenarios

Teen Club is a socialization training program designed for teens with mild to moderate learning, communication and social challenges who are able to function independently and in small groups, and be safe in the community. Parents provide transportation to activities. Our aims are to support independence, gain confidence in the community, explore pre-vocational interests, and build strong, reciprocal friendships.

Teen Club is vendored with Regional Center, Vendor # PD1874, SVC 028.

For more information, please call Jennifer Aceves at (626) 793-7350 x222

View Teen Club Activities