Spark: A Psycho-Social Afterschool Group Program

Spark is a weekly supportive mentoring program that takes place in a structured and supervised group setting at The Sherkow Center. It is designed to help young people diagnosed with ASD or uneven development learn socialization skills, impulse control, anger management, and to learn about their bodies and their minds! Within each Spark group, we pair an ASD child or teen with a similarly aged youngster, who serves as a mentor, social model, and friend. Spark offers an opportunity to learn and hone conversational skills, and ultimately expand creative horizons while reinforcing empathy and engagement. Our programming also prepares our youngsters for events in the practical world, through presenting projects to a group, and practicing sharing and politeness with others. We typically have an art activity, a unique game or sport, and finally a more psychological and socially-oriented "Sparkinator" segment, which covers a range of activities that touch on emotions. Our goal for every “Sparkinator” is to work on relationships and sharing within the group, on coping strategies for strange or challenging situations, and on learning how to understand other's mental states. To achieve this goal we practice social skills such as turn-taking, initiating a conversation, and other social conventions. 

We meet on Wednesdays in blocks of 12 weeks, at 4:15pm (for ages 7-13) and 5:30pm (for ages 13+). 

In the service of personalizing the attention we give each child, Susan P. Sherkow, MD and Jenifer Clark, PhD, our group leaders, meet with every child or teen and his parents who are interested in joining, before they are assigned to a group. 

Please refer to the flyer for the current semester for session dates. 

For any further information, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us. We would be glad to have the opportunity to discuss this program in more detail with any interested parties.


“… I usually assume Ruby’s profound enthusiasm for SPARK must speak for itself, but we so appreciate Dr. Sherkow and everyone involved with SPARK for their understanding, intelligence, commitment, enthusiasm, energy and thoughtfulness with every session.

Through Dr. Sherkow’s psychoanalytic approach, Ruby’s ability to understand her emotions, express herself and participate more with those around her has blossomed. We will always be grateful.”

— Sarah Clarke, Parent