Developmental Support Associates

Developmental Gaming & Creative Arts Groups

DSA’s Developmental Gaming and Creative Arts groups are designed as a non-stigmatizing positive alternative to traditional social skills and group therapy.

The over-riding goal our group session is for all participants to leave the experience with an increased appreciation of themselves and others, a feeling of mastery and achievement, and an enhanced sense of positive social purpose.

At DSA, we believe that a person’s capacity for learning is strongest when motivations and engagement are at their height.  Based on this, our first priority is for all participants to have a positive social experience. The mandate for the staff is that “Everyone goes home happy.” Not only does this ensure that participants stay engaged and motivated with minimal anxiety, but it also leaves participants eager to return and continue participation.  Meanwhile DSA staff work discretely to promote personal, social, behavioral and cognitive growth.

We seek to challenge each participant at his or her own skill levels and interests, while also assuring many opportunities for meaningful choice and success. Positive behavior support philosophy is integrated into all aspects of our program, and prosocial behaviors are modelled by staff. Thus we provide a structure for extrinsic motivation (reinforcement), as well as tap into intrinsic personal motivations.

Our creative arts activities work in a complementary manner with our gaming sessions. They offer opportunities for multisensory experience that can be enjoyed at all levels of skill, and they provide an opportunity for individual expression in a positive social environment. We provide high ratios of staffing, so that attention is available as needed.

DSA’s developmental gaming and arts program accommodates people with a wide range of skills, personalities, and interests. In the past, DSA has used this model to serve adults with developmental and mental health challenges as well as children with developmental disabilities. Past collaborations include partnerships with the Rock Creek Foundation and the ARC of Northern Virginia. While we believe that the benefits of our approach are best seen in regular group sessions, we have also organized successful activities at a variety of formal and informal recreational events.