Special Connections

Preparing adults with disabilities to navigate the dating world

Special Connections offers a supportive opportunity for adults with autism and other developmental disabilities to build their dating and relationship skills through virtual individual coaching sessions and virtual speed dating.

The workshop includes three coaching sessions—two occur before the virtual speed dating event, and the other is scheduled after the event in order to debrief and go over tips and recommendations for future dating opportunities.

We welcome applications from people of all gender, ages, sexual orientations, and abilities! Please complete our application to be considered for the program and be sure to check out the FAQs section below for more information.

 

This session is closed, but please fill out the application to be considered for future workshops,

CLICK HERE TO APPLY FOR SPECIAL CONNECTIONS >

For more information contact Ryan Berman—[email protected] or (415) 449-3805

FAQs

Q: Is there a deadline for applying?

A: Yes, the deadline for applying for Special Connections is May 13th, 2021 at midnight.

Q: What happens after I submit my application?

A: We will schedule a brief videoconference with selected applicants to meet and discuss the program. Following the meeting, you will be notified if you have been accepted into this particular workshop. If you are not accepted into this particular workshop, your information will be kept on file and you will be notified when future events are scheduled. All applicants will be invited to Special Connections singles’ mixers.

Q: When will I know if I’m accepted?

A: Not everyone who applies for the program will be accepted. Applicants will be notified by May 17th, 2021. Future workshops are being developed and we encourage you to fill out the application now to be considered for those opportunities.

Q: Are there age limits for participants?

A: For this particular Special Connections workshop, we are including individuals ages 21 – 35; HOWEVER, future Special Connections workshops will include other age ranges.

Q: Is the entire workshop virtual?

A: While this Special Connections workshop is virtual, future workshops will be held in-person when COVID restrictions are lifted and it is safe to do so.

Q: What does the program include?

A: Each participant will have three coaching sessions—two occur before the virtual speed dating event, and the other is scheduled after the virtual speed dating event in order to debrief and go over tips and recommendations for future dating opportunities. Participation in the program does not guarantee that you will find a significant other or find a match from the virtual speed dating event.

Q: What happens during a coaching session?

A: Individual coaching sessions address a number of dating topics through mock-dates, video analysis, role-playing, feedback, education, and discussions. Every session is tailored to the individual and is designed to target areas for growth such as listening skills, deciphering non-verbal communication, identifying shared interests, and maintaining a balanced back-and-forth dialogue. We will be drawing on curriculum from the UCLA PEERS program, an evidence-based social and relationship skills program.

Q: Who are the Special Connections coaches?

A: Michelle Hecht integrates expertise in learning, behavior, and emotional health when working with individuals of all ages. She seeks to bring compassion and positivity to her work as a behavior consultant and coach in the autism and developmental disabilities communities.  Michelle draws on her training in educational psychology, behavior analysis, DBT and ACT, and is a certified trainer for the PEERS for Young Adults program. Michelle is passionate about supporting young adults to develop close meaningful social connections and relationships.  She is excited about her role in Special Connections.

Deena Abramson believes human connections can be fun, meaningful, diverse, and growth-provoking experiences. A mental health and family-focused social worker for many years, Deena now works to provide and develop individualized support services to youth and adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Deena is grateful to support people’s processes of imagining what emotional and romantic health, wellness, and empowered living means to them. Deena is passionate about the ways our histories and intersectional identities impact our relationships with ourselves and others.

Q: When will I meet with my coach?

A: Special Connections coaches will work with you to create a schedule that suits both you and your coach. We have both daytime and evening hours available.

Q: How does virtual speed dating work?

A: Everyone will sign onto Zoom and then be sent a link to Glimpse—an easily accessible social platform for back-to-back, 1-on-1 video chats. We will arrange everything for you to meet other singles enrolled in the program for speed dates. Following each date, you will note if you would like to meet them again. Then you will automatically be assigned someone else to meet and will be virtually connected. Once all of the dates have taken place, participants will notify their coaches of who they would like to meet again. If two speed daters have expressed a mutual interest in seeing each other again, they will receive each other’s email address. Glimpse also has an option to use pre-created icebreaker questions if you need some extra help finding something to talk about.

Q: Is this program only for cisgender and heterosexual individuals?

A: Special Connections is a program for all genders and sexualities. This initial workshop is for people who identify as cisgender and identify as heterosexual. Future Special Connections programs will have individuals of all genders and sexualities included. We encourage you to fill out the application now, no matter your gender or sexuality, to be considered for future workshops.

Q: Is this program for individuals of all abilities?

A: This initial Special Connections workshop is for individuals who do not need support to participate in 1-on-1 conversations with other young adults during brief introductory social interaction activities.  Future Special Connections programs will include individuals who do need support to participate in a workshop such as this. We encourage you to fill out the application now, no matter your support needs, to be considered for future workshops.

CLICK HERE TO APPLY FOR SPECIAL CONNECTIONS >

For more information contact Ryan Berman—[email protected] or (415) 449-3805

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