SIBS Club Program
SIBS Club is a service for families of children with autism staffed by undergraduate and graduate students in psychology and education.
We serve 15-20 families each semester. Children are generally between 3 and 16 years of age. We provide training to approximately 10 graduate students and 30 undergraduate students each semester.
SIBS Club is a 10 week program that runs each semester at Queens College. During each 2 hour session for 10 weeks, children with autism and their siblings attend SIBS Club. For the first hour the children with autism receive individualized skills instruction in social, communication, and play and leisure skills while the typically developing siblings attend a group just for them. During the second hour, all the children come together for a supported inclusive recreation time.
The focus of Skills Instruction is on the kinds of skills that will help the child with autism interact with his/her sibling(s). On the first days of SIBS Club, we determine each child’s proficiency in making eye contact, turn taking, commenting, and requesting help, amongst other skills. Then, Skills Leaders develop individualized programs to address areas of need for your child. Intervention is conducted while your child plays games with his/her instructors and other children.
The Sibling Group is a place where siblings get to know other children and discuss friendship and family while enjoying games, arts and crafts, and stories. When we run SIBS Club we try different types of activities for the group to see what works best for the siblings.
The goal of Recreation Time is to support your children interacting with each other while playing fun gross motor games. Recreation involves a lot of movement games such as stretches to warm up, relay races, and freeze dance. We hold recreation time either inside a few of the classrooms or, if weather permits, outside on the main lawn at Queens College.
SIBS Club Co-Directors, Dr. Emily A. Jones and Dr. Daniel Fienup, are both faculty in the Department of Psychology at Queens College.
Each part of SIBS Club is overseen by trained graduate level students in the areas of Psychology or Special Education with extensive background in the field. The individualized Skills Instruction for the children with autism is overseen by 2-3 Skills Leaders who are trained graduate students. The Sibling Group is conducted by 1-2 graduate students. The Recreation Time is conducted by 2-3 graduate students. The graduate students are in the Psychology MA in Applied Behavior Analysis program, the PhD Behavior Analysis program in Psychology, or the MA program in Special Education. They bring expertise in working with children with autism that they are honing through their graduate education.
Undergraduate students implement the individualized Skills Instruction programs with the children with autism during the first hour and then help facilitate sibling interactions in Recreation Time during the second hour. The undergraduate students are mostly Juniors or Seniors with plans to enter a helping profession, most often psychology or education. The undergraduate students are enrolled in a practicum course that runs in conjunction with SIBS Club. They are learning to implement intervention with children with autism and their families. Undergraduate students are overseen by course instructors (one of the Co-Directors or a highly qualified graduate student) and the graduate student Leaders of the program. They are observed weekly and receive feedback to improve their performance. Because students are learning through their involvement in SIBS Club, two undergraduate students work with each child with autism and his/her sibling.