Social Tools And Rules for Teens (START) Program

START Program Overview

The Social Tools And Rules for Teens (START Program) is a 20-week immersive socialization intervention for adoelscents with autism.  It focuses on improving social motivation, insight, and skills using a club-like environment that emphasizes learning through social experience and interactive lessons. 

Read about our START Randomized Controlled Trial in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

Read our pilot article on the START Program in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

Geared for ages 12-17, the START Program focuses on experience-based learning in an engaging social club environment with snacks, group games and activities, high school and college-aged peer mentors, and both group and individualized social skill targets.

Each 90-minute session features

  • Individual check-in sessions
  • Free socialization time to work on individual skill targets
  • Topic discussions with role-plays, videos, and practice
  • Structured group activities to work on communication and teamwork
  • Check-out session with parents to give feedback and set weekly goals.

Social Readiness Model

The START Program was designed to target Social Readiness in individuals with ASD. Social Readiness is comprised of two equally important factors for social success: Social Motivation and Social Competence.  Social Motivation is the desire to seek out social interaction and derive pleasure from these experiences, whereas Social Competence consists of the Insight and Skills necessary to engage in a positive interaction with others.  Having these factors allows a person to engage with receptive social partners, become immersed in social interactions, benefit from experiential social learning, and ultimately strengthen existing motivation and competencies.  This transactional feedback loop is depicted below.

Enroll in the START Program

The Koegel Autism Center is currently offering the 20-week START group socialization program for local adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, and other social challenges on a fee for service basis. Sessions are being offered for a $50/week fee. Interested parents should contact us at autism@education.ucsb.edu.

Become Trained in the START Program

We are currently finalizing a professional training program in the START Program.  If you are interested in participating in a future training, please email us at autism@education.ucsb.edu to be added to our interest list.