The F.U.S.E. Program: Foundations for Understanding Social Engagement







Specializing in Child Social Development; Empowering a child to engage with peers in a fun collaborative way!

Services Include Social Groups, Pretend Play Groups, Specialized Preschool and Vacation and Summer Camp in Lexington, MA


T he F.U.S.E Program , Foundations for Understanding Social Engagement, is a program for children who are experiencing challenges in social problem solving skills at home, at school or in the community. Many children, for a variety of reasons, lack necessary foundational skills for social problem solving. Without these skills it is difficult for a child to feel confident and thus engage successfully with peers in a meaningful reciprocal manner . The goal of the FUSE Program is to access a child where he/she is and help him/her internalize the foundational skills they are weak in to to empower a child to feel competent and confident interacting and relating in the social world.

The F.U.S.E. Program Curriculum

As is the philosophy of F.U.S.E,. we have uniquely combined the philosophy and theories of Relationship Development Intervention by Steve Gustein, Social Thinking by Michelle Garcia Winner and Tools of the Mind.  For your convenience, here are links to learn more about each program:

We feel each approach supports and builds on the other and used collectively provides the most comprehensive systematic approach to developing the WHOLE child and providing them with the necessary tools they need to feel and be successful at every stage in life.   Each child will have evolving goals and objectives reflecting each area of development based on these three sets of criteria.

A brief description of each area of the curriculum is below:

Theories we are FUSEing

Relationship Development Intervention (RDI)

Dr. Steven Gutstein is the creator of the RDI (Relationship Development Intervention) program. The program focuses on the following areas of social development.

  • Dramatic improvement in meaningful communication
  • Desire to share their experiences with others
  • Genuine curiosity and enthusiasm for other people
  • Ability to adapt easily and “go with the flow”
  • Increase in the initiation of joint attention
  • Improvement in perspective taking and theory of mind
  • Increased desire to seek out and interact with peers

Core Deficits Targeted by RDI

  • Emotional Referencing: The ability to use an emotional feedback system to learn from the subjective experiences of others.
  • Social Co-regulation / Coordination: The ability to observe and continually regulate one’s behavior in order to participate in spontaneous relationships involving collaboration and exchange of emotions.
  • Broadband Communication: Using language and non-verbal communication to express curiosity, invite others to interact, share perceptions and feelings, and coordinate your actions with others.
  • Dynamic thinking: The ability to rapidly adapt, change strategies, and alter plans based upon changing circumstances.
  • Relational Information Processing: The ability to obtain meaning based upon the larger context. Solving problems that have no right-and-wrong solutions.
  • Foresight and Hindsight: The ability to reflect on past experiences and anticipate potential future scenarios in a productive manner.

The goal of RDI is to build or strengthen dynamic intelligence instead of relying on “static intelligence” (that is, the ability to know information or memorize facts).

Social Thinking

Social thinking is what we do when we interact with people: we think about them. And how we think about people affects how we behave toward them, which in turn affects how others respond to us, which in turn affects our own emotions.

Whether we are with friends, sending an email, in a classroom, or at the grocery store, we take in the thoughts, emotions, and intentions of those around us.

Social Thinking strategies teach individuals:

  • How their own social minds work – why they and others react and respond the way they do;
  • How their behaviors affects those around them;
  • And from this, how behaviors are affecting their own emotions, responses to and relationships with others across different social contexts.
  • Recognize the different levels of their own and others’ social minds;
  • Navigate their behaviors for more rewarding social outcomes, which include considering how others perceive and respond to these behaviors;
  • Learn to adapt to the people and situations around them, across contexts, from formal (classroom) to casual settings (recess, etc.).

Think Smart Feel Good

The Think Smart Feel Good (TSFG) Curriculum written by Dorothy Lucci and Rachel Robb Avery will be piloted at our preschool for the 2012-13 school year.

The TSFG curriculum teaches young children positive thinking, relaxation and mindfulness skills associated with Emotional Resiliency and healthy school adjustment.

The theory behind TSFG is multidisciplinary and involves the following areas of investigation:

  • Positive Psychology and Resiliency
  • Mindfulness Practice as a strategy that promotes well-being in self and compassion toward others
  • Relaxation strategies that help maintain calm in the face of distress and emotional challenge
  • Cognitive Behavioral Theory: How one thinks affects how one feels
  • Self-Efficacy and Locus of Control: when we feel that our well-being is under our own control or that distress is context driven, we are better able to approach the bumps in life with resiliency
  • Play: young children learn best through the medium of play, as in preschool they learn best through doing

Children are intrinsically motivated toward mastery

  • Mastery is the cornerstone upon which feelings of self-esteem are built.
  • Stable emotional regulation is a hallmark of adjustment. Emotional regulation involves the processing of both positive and negative affect
  • The ability to process negative affect is critical to successful emotional regulation and the stable presence of feelings of well-being

The Think Smart Feel Good Curriculum is designed to teach young children to:

  • Recognize that they create the thoughts that they have in their brains
  • That the brain can make two types of thoughts: thoughts that feel good and thoughts that do not feel good
  • Learn that the thoughts they make effect how they feel and how they behave
  • Discover how the Mind/Brain and the Body work together to create how they feel
  • Recognize that a Calm Body creates a Calm Mind and a Calm Mind creates good-feeling thoughts
  • Use the tools of relaxation and mindfulness to have a Calm Body and a Calm Mind
  • Utilize a variety of relaxation tools (deep breathing, visualization, mindfulness attention, progressive muscle relaxation) as a strategy for self-soothing in response to moments of discomfort or stress.
  • Discover that they can be their own “Thot Boss” when they pay attention to the thoughts they are making and choose to make thoughts that feel good.
  • Learn strategies to help support peers to think smart and feel good too