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Social Skills Groups

Girls texting

GNO skills groups give girls and young women with and without disabilities opportunities to develop and build social and self-care skills within natural community settings.

We target social skills related to conversation, calling and texting, making and maintaining friendships, planning events and establishing relationships within community social networks.

We also target self-care skills, with previous sessions on body care, hair care, clothing, positive self-talk, healthy living, and fitness. Sessions occur within the community to allow for teaching and practice in natural social and self care activities.

Past sessions include visits to salons, workout facilities, parks, restaurants, cosmetic and clothing stores, arts and crafts, and much more. Best of all...GNO is fun!

"These girls nights keep getting better and better!" - GNO Participant 2017

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes GNO unique?

  • We include trained, typically developing peer volunteers.
  • Our curriculum is specifically designed for girls and young women and occurs in their natural community settings. 
  • We partner with the community to access expertise, promote awareness, and sponsor community events!

GNO skills group

Who can participate in GNO?

GNO skills groups are for girls with autism and other related developmental disabilities. GNO-Teen skills groups typically include 8-12 girls between the ages of 14-19 years old. GNO-Jr. skills groups typically include 6-10 girls between the ages of 10-13 years old (in 4th through 6th grade). However, we are working to expand the scope of current GNO services and events to a larger age span, including school age (GNO Jr.) and young adults. We form groups based on age and area of need or interest. Complete a participant intake form to be added to our list serve and to receive information about participating in an upcoming skills group, GNO news, opportunities, and community events!

GNO also includes girls without developmental disabilities, as trained peer volunteers to participate in GNO skills groups, create social opportunities for practice, and model use of skills and supports. We provide training to our peers and community service hours for participation. GNO provides an incredible opportunity to gain leadership skills and connect with a great group of girls. See our peer partnerships page for more information.

When does the next GNO skills groups begin?

Skills groups occur throughout the year and are planned based on staff availability and community demand. We recruit participants by reviewing existing intakes and community announcements. We hope to have 2-3 skills groups offered each year. See our GNO news and activities page for information about the next group and other opportunities.

When are GNO skills groups and how long do they last?

GNO skills group sessions typically occur once a week, from approximately 3:45-5:00PM (after school) or 6:00-8:00PM, with 8-12 sessions. We encourage participants to attend an initial in-person assessment interview and to attend 90% of GNO sessions. 

Is there a cost to participate?

There is a fee for service, with the cost depending on the length of program and activities. The fee includes all sessions and covers staff time, support materials, and some activity or transportation fees. Some sessions require a small amount of spending money for food or activities. Information about these anticipated costs is provided to families prior to beginning GNO. We have received several grants in the past that help offset costs for participants and provide support for materials. We recruit community partners that often welcome us into their businesses, donate their time, services, and/or products to the girls in our group.

Do you offer scholarships?

We do not have any scholarships to help fund participation at this time. We are beginning fundraising efforts with hopes to offer scholarships and other low-cost or no-cost activities. Our administration will work with families on an individual basis to ensure the appropriate payment plan, if needed. We encourage families to look for opportunities in the community that provide scholarships for participation in programs such as ours, as some girls have found these in the past.

What types of strategies do you use?

We utilize effective strategies such as visual supports (e.g., steps and/or pictures of a self-care routine, cue cards with conversation tips, magnets with skill steps, scrapbooks or planners with all the supports we use), social narratives (stories about a social situation or skill that include why it is important and what to do, presentations on the IPAD that include pictures and steps), role playing, video modeling (e.g., watching videos demonstrating conversation skills we are teaching), a coaching model (e.g., giving girls feedback about what they are doing well during skill practice and social activities), and skill practice (e.g., practicing conversation skills during age appropriate activities, practice with hair and make up, picking out clothes) to support all activities.

What type of activities do the groups participate in?

Some of our activities include: Dinner out, dancing, jewelry making, fitness activities, painting pottery, horseback riding, coffeehouse handouts, visit to a salon, fashion events, cooking, movie night and a Worlds of Fun outing.

Last modified: Dec 18, 2019
Community Wide Impact

"She felt a part of something special and had something fun to look forward to every week!" 

- GNO Participant's family 


"You start to see more of the similarities and less of the differences between people with and without disabilities."  

- GNO Peer 


"GNO gives me opportunities to do things I don't normally do" - GNO Participant 

"A BIG thank you for opening the door for my daughter to interact with other girls her age. Typical girls and girls with autism can all be friends!"
 - GNO Participant's family

"This experience has given my daughter confidence and many "A-HA" moments. What she has learned has flowed over into her non-GNO activities as well."
- GNO Participant's family

"The whole program was an eye-opening experience. I learned so much about people's behaviors and even realized how my own actions can influence people. I don't feel like I can explain how much I learned and enjoyed the time with everyone."
- GNO Peer 2010