Back To School Part 1- Making New Friends

imageThe theme of this past week at the office was of course BACK TO SCHOOL! Between focusing on the positives of going back to school to breathing and relaxing practice to help with anxiety to tips to staying organized and making friends, we covered the gamut. I’m feeling compelled to highlight a few thoughts though to review with your socially challenged child this weekend as we begin a new school year. I’ll post some organization tips and anxiety-reducing tips later in the week as well.

1. Watch and learn. See what others are and aren’t doing.
2. It’s better to be quiet and observe then to go in trying too hard.
3. Sometimes it is important to try to fit in. Don’t sacrifice who you are and what your values are, but also don’t go out of your way to be too different or too out there.
4. Look for the others who have more in common with you. Don’t shoot for the all that crowd – they often are not the most welcoming or inclusive. Find that one child who also is sitting alone or looking unsure. See who else likes Pokemon or Minecraft. Hang out with the smart, quiet kid.
5. Say hi to that person in #4. Don’t wait for them to say hi first.
6. DON’T DO ALL THE TALKING! This is a biggie! Others will get bored and turned off right away. Ask questions instead, then follow through with follow-up comments. Everyone loves to talk about themselves. Get people talking. Fake it that you are interested even if you are not. Build common ground. Good conversation starters include: What do you like to do? Have you been watching the Olympics? Who do you like? What events did you like? What video games/you tubers/ etc do you like the best? What did you do this summer? Where did you go on vacation? What movies did you see? Then build on the answers. (Parents, this is a good one to practice with your child. Have pretend conversations.)
7. Remind all your children to be accepting. To notice those who look like they need a friend. To say hi and talk to the quiet or awkward child. To invite others to join you and your friends at lunch. If every typical child did this for one other child, think of the difference it would make!

Review. Practice. Role play. All good things to help all of our children begin with a fresh start this year! Hope this helps a little! Now enjoy the rest of this weekend, it’s still summer, especially in Florida!


Riley, the therapy dog

imageWe are thrilled to introduce you to our very newest and probably most-loved member at Family Learning Solutions! Riley joined us here in the fall of 2015.  Riley is a whoodle – a wheaten terrier/poodle blend and is 4 years old.  He does not shed and is hypoallergenic. Riley worked hard to be here and has completed 3 sets of obedience classes at The Humane Society of Polk County in Winter Haven under Diann Andress.  He passed his AKC Good Citizens Canine Test last fall and passed all but one portion of his therapy dog test in December.  He has been practicing and is retaking his exam in the next two weeks.  His one failure was that he loves other dogs and just could not settle down when he saw another one! Riley is extremely good-natured and has proven to be a valuable asset at the office for both our young clients and our older ones.  Riley loves to cuddle and soothe the anxious or the distressed.  He is also more than happy though to play and entertain the active.  And he provides a great opportunity to socialize, to calm down, and to interact with on whatever basis he is needed.  He has helped more than one person get over their fear of dogs as well. Ms. Donna has gotten used to Riley getting the welcomes and the one everyone now comes to see.  And Riley loves coming to work and seeing all his new friends! Riley is famous too – check out his Ledger article and come meet him!



We currently do not have any Sibshops scheduled but if you are interested, please call our office and we will add you to our wait list. We hope to offer more of these in the future. The bigger our list gets, the more likely we are to do so! 


Social Skills

Social skills such as making conversations, maintaining friendships, joining in, playing games, attending to and working with a partner, being a good sport, and working collaboratively do not come easily to some children. We have weekly groups to work on these skills as well as develop friendships in a fun, relaxed setting.

Although many of these children have High Functioning Autism or Asperger’s; others are just shy children or those struggling with peer relationships who can use some help in forming positive relationships. Groups for all ages, from 3 and up, are available and if we do not have one that suits you, we will work to develop one for you.



We currently are providers for the following insurance plans:

  • Blue Cross/Blue Shield
  • CMS
  • Value Options

We do offer reasonable private pay options, especially with our interns.



Groups held throughout the year

Sibshops® is a fun-filled, interactive experience designed to affirm and support siblings ages 8-12, of those with special needs. Based on the national model, Sibshops® by Don Meyer, promotes interaction with others experiencing similar situations and feelings.

If you missed the May 2009 Lakeland Ledger article, read it now.

Sibling Support Project website.


  • Providing siblings an opportunity to meet other siblings in a relaxed, recreational setting
  • Providing siblings with opportunities to discuss common joys and concerns with others siblings
  • Providing siblings with an opportunity to learn how others handle situations commonly experienced by siblings of children with special needs
  • Providing siblings with an opportunity to learn more about the implications of their siblings’ special needs.
  • Providing parents and other professionals with opportunities to learn more about the concerns and opportunities frequently experienced by siblings


Ages: 8-12

Sessions: One hour groups held throughout the year

Group Size: 6 minimum to 12 maximum

Cost: $25 per session per child payable at first session. Family discount available for 2 or more family members attending. Package deals include pre-registering and pre-paying for advanced sessions; 3 sessions at $65.00 and 5 sessions for $99.00. Scholarships through CARD and Early Steps may be available, please contact us for additional information.

Donna Grosser

I began my journey into working with special needs children many years ago when my younger brother was born. My brother has High Functioning Autism. He is now a 42 year old marvel, working and living independently and very successfully. He has achieved a quality of life that is admirable and he is quite happy in his day to day living and relationships. As his sibling, I grew up with many of the same feelings and experiences many of the families I work with have expressed.

It has always been a desire of mine to provide a group for the siblings of the children and families I with whom I work. Many of these families have asked me frequently if I could provide this. Their children are in my office with their parents often, wishing they would get a turn too, playing and talking. I am experienced with facilitating groups as I offer many social skills groups every year as well as other groups such as study skills, divorce, and anger management.

As stated earlier, my mission is to provide siblings a place to meet, share, be affirmed, and interact with others with this common experience.

I am a certified group leader for Sibshops®. My overall goal is for this to be an ongoing group, open to new and old members each time it is offered, and to provide a community service we do not currently have available.


Mental Health Counseling

Therapy services to address a multitude of emotional needs for children and adults. We prefer and use a cognitive-behavioral approach primarily with play therapy techniques for children incorporated as well

Specializing in Children and Families

Children are the focus at Family Learning Solutions, although at times the family and/or other family members including adults need additional help as well. Our therapy approach includes cognitive behavioral therapy, which addresses our underlying beliefs and thoughts and looks at ways to reframe and restructure those thoughts; developing coping skills and strategies to improve our quality of life; processing feelings surrounding issues and events in our lives; and play therapy for children which uses the medium of play to help children work through situations to develop a solution.


Educational Interventions

Coming Soon


Learning Disabilities

Learning disabilities are a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to either interpret what they see and hear or to link information from different parts of the brain. Learning disabilities may affect a person’s ability to speak, listen, read, write, spell, reason, recall, organize information or to do mathematics. These disorders are seen in people who have normal intelligence but due to some differences in the connections in the brain, they affect various speech, articulations, coordination and academic aspects of the development.

Educational Assessment

Before beginning any type of educational intervention, an educational assessment is administered. This provides information on instructional levels in reading, writing and math; a brief screening to determine ability/aptitude; diagnostic interpretation of strengths and weaknesses in each academic area; and if needed, further visual and auditory processing assessments and checklists on behavior, attention, and sensory needs. A follow-up consultation, along with a report, are provided to summarize all of the above and provide recommendations and an interventions plan that addresses your child’s specific strengths and weaknesses in learning. Although we can not diagnose a learning disability or dyslexia, we can identify red flags and point you in the right direction if further evaluation is needed. Consultation is also available, if needed, to meet with parents for further assistance and to work with your child’s school by attending teacher conferences, staffings, or IEP meetings if requested.

Educational Therapy/Tutoring

At Family Learning Solutions, LLC, every child is an individual and is treated as such. We go beyond traditional tutoring. We offer traditional tutoring for all academic subjects, as well as test prep and study skills. We go beyond that though to also offer cognitive therapy that targets the underlying processes in the brain that can be affecting learning. Instead of bandaiding the problem, we go below the problem and strengthen it at its source. Our learning interventions are prescriptive because a plan is developed to meet your child’s specific needs; our counseling sessions and groups also keep every child and their unique situation foremost in our minds as we work to provide effective assistance



Home Schooling

FLS supports home schooling families by offering educational assessments, educational planning and consultation, intervention programs, and occasional parenting and home schooling meetings in the evenings. Educational assessments provide information regarding a child’s ability, grade levels in academic subjects, areas of weaknesses, learning style, auditory and visual processing, visual motor skills, and ability to attend and focus. With children with a diagnosed difficulty such as ADHD, these services may be covered by insurance. For those without insurance or without a diagnosis, FLS offers reduced rates to home schoolers in recognition of the sacrifice made in a family that chooses to educate their children at home.