Schools & Programs April 2022 Newsletter

Dear Help Group Friends & Families,

In April, we celebrated Autism Acceptance Month. With the prevalence of autism in the United States rising to 1 in 44 children (2020), the need for Autism Acceptance Month is greater than ever.

At The Help Group, we have certainly shone a light on the need to raise awareness of Autism, and we have also been long dedicated to educating families and our communities in ways which promote acceptance. For many decades The Help Group has led the way in educating children with Autism and other related social and communication challenges.

In our fourteen special education day schools, we have created programs to meet the needs of neurodiverse students who benefit from the development of basic daily living skills and vocational training as well as students in need of a social skills curriculum and a college preparatory education. By embracing strengths as well as bolstering areas of challenge, we maximize the opportunity for our students to live fulfilling and independent lives.

In recognition of Autism Acceptance Month, we are proud to spotlight some of our progress as well as highlight some of our autism schools and programs below.

Dr. Jason Bolton
VP of Community Partnerships & Admissions

Why does early intervention matter?

Neuroplasticity is a concept that refers to our brains’ ability to grow and evolve by developing new connections between regions, as well as rewiring and reinforcing existing connections. For example, when you learn a new skill such as riding a bike, new neural pathways are established. Each time you practice riding your bike, those pathways are strengthened. That’s why learning new skills can be so good for our minds!

Learn About Some Of The Help Group’s Autism Schools And Programs...

Village Glen’s Social Skills Curriculum

Village Glen has a new website coming soon, and we’re excited to highlight it’s new social skills curriculum. To promote social development, Village Glen utilizes a unique social skills framework developed by developmental psychologists at The Help Group in conjunction with a wide range of clinical services provided by a highly professional, licensed and credentialed staff. The school also aims to develop creative thinkers, committed and independent citizens, and compassionate, self-reliant individuals through partnerships with parents, the school, and the community. You can learn more about the new social skills evidence-based program here, and be on the lookout for our website launch too!

Empowering Students through Career Exploration

Did you know that Bridgeport and BP Vocational Center offer six vocational tracks for students with moderate needs? Students begin at the young age of 5 with career exploration and continue to learn about skill specific in-demand careers through high school. High School students can participate in our Career Technical Education (CTE) academies, which include agriculture, arts media, child development, construction/manufacturing, fashion design/merchandising, and hospitality. Upon completion of specific courses through a partnership with LA Valley College and West LA College, students receive badges of completion that they can add on their resumes and in job applications. What an empowering way to support students transitioning from school to greater adult independence! To learn more, contact our admissions office at 877-943-5747 or email by clicking on the button below.

Meet the Senior Director of Autism & LGBTQ+ Programs

Dr. Laurie Stephens is a developmental psychologist who has been working with children, teens, and young adults on the autism spectrum for over 25 years. She currently serves as The Help Group’s Senior Director of Autism and LGBTQ+ Programs. Her primary area of specialty is in designing social skills curriculum, with a newfound passion for the changing nature of social expectations in the digital age. She has designed, run and supervised social skills groups for children ages two years through young adulthood. She has provided individual, family and parent psychotherapy, utilizing primarily a cognitive-behavioral approach to a wide-range of clients. While working with her ASD clients, Dr. Stephens became extremely interested in the overlap between transgender and gender queer identifications and folks on the spectrum, as many of her clients began to share their authentic selves to her. Dr. Stephens oversees all of Kaleidoscope’s programming and events, and has been instrumental in establishing a specialized diagnostic clinic for LGBTQ+ children, teens, and young adults who may suspect they have an autism spectrum disorder. Dr Stephens also sees clients in the Lumina Counseling Center.

Summer Camps Begin June 20th!

Available now!

The Help Group is pleased to be able to offer in-person enrichment camps this summer for ages 6 to 16 across the autism spectrum. Campers will be grouped according to their needs and peer-level and placed into one of two camp programs – Village Glen Camp or Camp Sunshine. This intimate camp experience, located on our Sherman Oaks campus, will provide a fun, safe, and stimulating environment for all! Have questions? Contact Charlotte at

Life Skills Coaching for Young Adults

One of the most frequently asked questions by parents of teens and young adults with special needs is “What happens next?” Advance LA provides clients with autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, executive functioning difficulties and learning differences the experiences and opportunities necessary to lead a fulfilling adult life. We offer coaching services for neurodivergent young adults and support groups for parents. A shining example of how coaching services can inspire personal growth and development is our client Emma, who was open to learning new skills such as executive functioning, time management, and organization. Emma recently graduated from college cum laude, and is now working in her field of composing music at a post-production house. The sky is the limit for Emma and all of our coaching clients! Learn more about life skills coaching.

Introducing Lumina Counseling – Virtual & In-person Counseling

Recognizing the increasing mental health needs in our communities and the difficulties many are experiencing in accessing needed services, The Help Group has recently opened the Lumina Counseling Center. Lumina offers health insurance funded and private pay individual, group, couples and family therapy to persons of all ages, in addition to psycho-educational evaluations and diagnostic assessments. Our goal is to meet our clients where they are at and build a strong, trusting and compassionate therapeutic alliance with those seeking our support. At our core, Lumina Counseling believes that everyone has the right to be heard and guided to live their best possible life.

The Benefits of Pscyhotherapy in Autism: Addressing Anxiety, Depression & Trauma Through Therapy

Recent statistics show that about 75% of autistic children have a comorbid mental health challenge, and nearly 50% have two or more comorbid mental health challenges. Common conditions include anxiety, depression/mood disorders, ADHD and OCD. Our most recent webcast presented the latest research on mental health issues in autism spectrum disorder and provided information on the most up-to-date and innovative therapies for helping autistic youth and their parents cope with these challenges. We heard from an autistic young adult on what was most beneficial in therapy for them and also a parent’s perspective on how therapy helped their child. It was an incredibly insightful presentation and discussion.

The Intersection Between ASD & LGBTQIA+

A few months ago, The Help Group hosted a webcast to showcase some of the work from our new program Kaleidoscope, which supports neurodivergent and neurotypical LGBTQIA+/Questioning youth, young adults and their families in building healthy relationships, higher resiliency, and critically needed life skills. We discussed what the data tells us about the high degree of intersectionality between ASD and LGBTQIA identities, what it means to be a dual minority, and how to create safe spaces for LGBTQIA autistic folks. Missed this informative webcast? You can watch the recording here! If you’d like to learn more about Kaleidoscopes programs and services, including virtual social groups, click the button below.

Positive Psychology: A Therapeutic Approach for Adolescents & for Parents

Wednesday, May 25th | 10am PT
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we have an interesting topic that we will be covering in May’s webcast. Positive psychology is the study of what makes life most worth living. Therapy is a safe space to navigate challenges, build coping skills, and heal what hurts in order to live a more fulfilling life. Together we will talk about how we build strengths, practice optimism and gratitude, and learn how to promote an authentic life. Authenticity is when what we think, feel, do, and say are all in alignment; authenticity and a sense of fulfillment go hand in hand. In this webcast, we will explore how positive psychology can be used to benefit teens (of all abilities) as well as benefit parents who may be struggling with their own issues. Free to attend.


The Help Group is the largest, most innovative and comprehensive nonprofit of its kind serving children, adolescents and young adults with special needs related to autism spectrum disorder, learning disabilities, ADHD, developmental delays, abuse and emotional challenges through its wide range of specialized education, therapy and outreach programs. Recently, The Help Group launched programs to serve LGBTQ+ youth. At the heart of its efforts is the commitment to helping young people fulfill their potential to lead positive, productive and rewarding lives.

The Help Group | 13130 Burbank Blvd., Sherman Oaks, CA 91401

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