Assertive Communication Training (ACT)
A number of studies with both socially isolated, unpopular children and aggressive, rejected children suggest that increasing social competence can give them the skill to cope with the choices of adolescence. The research also suggests that healthy, well-adjusted children benefit from receiving social skills training. Dr. Rotheram created the Assertive Communication Training (ACT) Game for elementary school children to broaden their social competence. Because ACT offers an active, rewarding, educational experience where children can acquire skills in a supportive environment and has been shown to result in substantial improvement in children’s self confidence and school grades, the American Psychological Association granted Dr. Rotheram’s contribution the honor of designation of an exemplary prevention model in 1986.
Life Skills Curriculum
The project began at The UCLA Family Commons in Santa Monica as a Social Skills class, and was later transformed into a classroom-based curriculum serving approximately 2,000 children in grades K-5 at the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools. The curriculum addresses 23 challenges that children and families commonly face through learning and practicing the skills of emotional self-regulation, self-awareness, problem solving, self-talk, and assertive social behaviors.
The program also provided training in the Life Skills methods to teachers, counselors, receptionists, aides, and playground monitors. In this way, the lessons learned in class by the students could permeate the entire culture of the school and create habits that were reinforced many times daily. The tools provided a language and a frame of reference for all students, teachers, and school personnel to talk about their thoughts, feelings, and actions within a problem-solving framework.
Dr. Rotheram, as a part of The UCLA Family Commons, has developed innovative summer programs designed to address the needs of low-income youth, youth struggling with learning disabilities and/or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorders, and youth struggling to develop appropriate social skills. The summer camps have been held both UCLA Family Commons sites, in Santa Monica and at the RFK Schools Complex. Each site had camps tailored to address the specific needs of the children in that community.