difficult child 2 continues to struggle with his social skills

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Californiablonde, May 17, 2012.

  1. Californiablonde

    Californiablonde Well-Known Member

    I just received an email from difficult child 2's teacher today saying that he is really struggling with participating in group activities. Right now his class is working on a group history project and he is refusing to participate. When it is time to go outside to work with the group, difficult child stays in his seat and does not follow the kids outside. When the teacher questioned him, he told her that he couldn't move his legs. difficult child finally admitted he just does not want to participate.

    The activity involved standing up as a group and speaking in front of people. The teacher knows how much he struggles in social environments, so she talked to the principal about it and he agreed to excuse difficult child from the assignment all together. I don't know if that's a good or bad thing. I am trying really hard to work with him on his social skills but it seems like there are just certain things that difficult child 2 doesn't get. Relating to others is one of them.

    The class is also working on another assignment that requires him to work in a small group of three. There is no public speaking involved. He is refusing to sit with the group and instead sits off by himself. When the teacher tells him to join the group he ignores her. I can sort of understand his not wanting to speak in public in front of a large group, but I don't get why he is unwilling to participate in a small group of a few kids that he has known all year.

    He has friends there. It's not like he doesn't talk to anybody, it's just with certain people in certain situtations. On the rare occasions when he does speak he doesn't know the right thing to say, and sometimes even upsets people and he doesn't know why. I guess it just goes along with the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) but I'm really having a hard time understanding it all.

    I hate to see him struggle. I am really worried about how he is going to function out there in the real world when he is expected to hold down a job and communicate with others. He is very smart. His last IQ test put him in the 95th percentile. It's just his social skills that are very poor. Hopefully he qualifies for this IEP and can get some services put in place. I just hate to sit back and see him struggle and I feel like there's nothing I can do.
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Here, child and youth support systems have summer camps just for kids like this - everybody there will have challenges, but it's run on about a 4-to-1 ratio of kids to professionals, and they really push things like social skills. Not sure what's available where you are... Some Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)/Asperger's associations also run social skills classes or camps...
  3. Yes, our local Learning disabilities association has after school groups as well as camps for kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) - they learn social skills together in a non-judgmental environment.

    Maybe you could check into Learning Disability Associations, YMCA, Family Services? Maybe even CPS might have something that could help you - or point you in the right direction. Or what about an Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) support group for parents? Maybe they could suggest something or some books to help you help him?

    I hope you find what you are looking for.
  4. keista

    keista New Member

    First, excusing difficult child 2 from the assignment isn't the answer. The immediate answer is to have him do an individual project instead. You mentioned several times talking in front of the class. Is that difficult child 2's problem or yours? Of course, I don't know your difficult child 2 and public speaking could be an issue for him, just not my experience that that would be the primary issue.

    The primary issue is actually working in groups even if the group members are friends. It becomes even more difficult when the child is really smart, and probably the smartest in the group with possible the very best ideas, but with absolutely no leadership skills, so cannot lead the group - only boss them around and that's when problems start and it's just too difficult and annoying to sit quietly while the stupid kids put out stupid ideas or even wore absolutely factually WRONG ideas, but they have charm and leadership/team skills and everyone else goes along with it but difficult child just can't because it is STUPID and WRONG! Whew. Honestly, that's exactly how my son explains it.

    Working in groups is a completely different animal from basic social skills. difficult child 2 should be started out in super small groups like just him and one other person. then work him up to groups of 3. Tough part is that he may never master it. My son is in 10th grade now. He's getting better at the group work thing and participates more often than not, BUT he still needs to be assigned to a group. When the class is just to Learning Disability (LD) to "split into groups" he shuts right down - even with friends or comfortable classmates in the room to choose from. Even when a group invites him in, he's not fully comfortable. When the teacher places him in a group, he can function much better. Took us two whole months in science last fall to figure out this nuance.

    Although social skills classes and camps abound, I am so not a fan of them. The situations are usually much to structured and not reflective of real world possibilities, and it's difficult children interacting with difficult children. in my opinion the best social skills training comes from prepped and patient neurotypical peers.
  5. confuzzled

    confuzzled Member

    keista--out of curiosity have you found anywhere like this? i tend to agree that structured classes arent necessarily the answer and would love to do more peer focused stuff--but i'm having a ridiculously hard time finding something like that....but i'm also not sure where to look.

    mine is doing a short summer computer cert program at the local college and i'm hoping for a good group of tolerent misfits....it ought to be interesting. but mine could still use some gentle facilitation to join in even that type of group--thats the key ingredient i cant seem to find.

    and its not too cool to have mom hanging around at this age.

    so i'd love to know if you had success somewhere....
  6. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    Sorry, this might not help those without big families. I've found that siblings are great at this. difficult child 2's therapist has actually assigned him to play with easy child 4 for 5 min a day. He hated it, but she is great and really pushes his comfort zone. She also pushes difficult child 1's comfort zone. Though we have to be very careful about that.
  7. keista

    keista New Member

    Honestly, my best success has been with the siblings. My two Aspies have opposing deficits, so they kind of correct each other, and the third will correct both older ones. Of course, I teach them skills daily. The current mission is for son's every day walking around town skills - mostly going in and out of door that you manually open. Other than that I just take advantage of every possible social teaching moment.

    In school he gets placed in groups usually with girls - the more nurturing of the species. They are better able to explain NICELY when he's being a stubborn butthead.

    It is so tough. The social skills classes with like-minded peers are the best thing out there, BUT it's with like-minded peers, and all the structured role playing in the world only helps in the real world when the exact same situation presents itself. Change just one variable, one response, and the typical B&W thinking Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is not going to know how to adjust.
  8. Californiablonde

    Californiablonde Well-Known Member

    Liahona, it's funny you should mention siblings because older difficult child is constantly covering for younger difficult child. She speaks for him when he is not comfortable speaking up. It could be at their dads' or out in public. She also tells him when he is being inappropriate. For the life of him he still doesn't GET why he pisses people off so much. He's very blunt and to the point. There are no white lies with him. He is very honest. Way too honest to a fault. difficult child and I are trying to teach him what is appropriate and what isn't, but he just can't seem to grasp it. They do have a social skills class at his school, and if he gets the IEP then he will be attending. difficult child 1 used to go there and she loved it, but then again she is a social butterfly, and any chance to get out and socialize is a plus for her. I have a feeling difficult child 2 won't like it so much.
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Does your school have social skills classes as part of his interventions? They really helped my son. In my son's class there were more than just Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) kids. They all have different social problems and, actually, they all got kind of close too.
  10. keista

    keista New Member

    Mine didn't. It why I don't put much stock into it. The year I finally pulled son out of his class the teacher (who adored son) confessed that it really wasn't making any impact on him. The emotionally handicapped kids were doing better than son. Why torture him and have him miss out on academics, then?

    For many years now I've told my kids that they come from a long line of *strange*. Normal is boring and overrated, but sometimes we need to pretend to be normal. Social skills is that pretend time. It's what the rest of the world expects, so we have to indulge them from time to time.
  11. Californiablonde

    Californiablonde Well-Known Member

    I don't know how much the social skills class will really help him but I am hoping it will have at least some impact. difficult child 2 just doesn't get it when his sister and I try to explain appropriate behaviors. Maybe the teacher won't be able to make him "get" it either. I'm just worried that he may **** off the wrong person one of these days and he could wind up getting the **** beaten out of him. He is going to middle school next year and will be around much older kids than he is used to.
  12. confuzzled

    confuzzled Member

    mine HATES it. to the tune of she actually spoke up for herself and asked the teacher what she was doing there. frankly, she *doesnt* belong there...i cant tell if its the teachers idea of what a social skills program should be or if she's trying to legitimately meet the others needs.

    technically its speech (because of course i live in the land of perfect children that dont need such things as social skills help)....but the main gist of it is still turn taking and game playing type skills...

    mine is fine with that type of social skills--she knows how to function day to day. what she struggles with is groups of others her age and how to be 13. she needs to know things like how to fein interest in boys if she's not interested, or its dorky to say dorky, or abercrombie was so last year. i'm not saying she needs to learn the art of cool, but i am saying she needs to learn how to make friends and fit it on some level--and it does bother her if she makes some kind of faux pas and doesnt exactly know why. maybe that doesnt make sense but i dont know how else to say it. (know i could care less if she ever has a BFF or goes to a HS party or whatever--its on some level, important to *her*)

    not how to wait your turn to spin the spinner in the game of life.
  13. keista

    keista New Member

    Confuzzled, I just remembered my other best resource, at least for DD1 - TV. YUP. all those tween and teen shows and movies. Hannah Montanah is out now, but there's Victorious, and Ned's declassified and Wizards of Waverly place and a whole bunch of others. Just check out Disney channel and Nick. I'm usually within earshot when she's watching, so If something comes up that is pertinent, or a good teaching moment (even for regular parenting things) I'll sit down and watch and then open discussion during commercials or when it's over.

    However I really don't think she has to feign interest in anything. I don't thin anyone should. In a way it's kind of like lying. Especially if it's believed to be a common interest at the beginning of a relationship (any relationship) What one does need to do is show respect for other ppl's interests.
  14. confuzzled

    confuzzled Member

    fein interest might have been a bad choice of words...more like politely change the subject or wait until someone is done (politely), lol. or even know how to interject and say, oops--gotta run....vs YOU ARE BORING! (its umm, happened)

    and yea, we do iCarly, victorious and a few others and they are VERY helpful but i have to be careful because sometimes they are heavy on the sarcasm and deadpan it...and sometimes mine just misses it. i do try to keep an eye on it and say something if i think she might misinterpret.

    mine is very much a loner which complicates things...she needs someone to facitiate and draw her in sometimes.

    if i had any patience and energy left i'd create a teen group that would do exactly that....

    but well, patience left about 10 years ago and energy never was. :smile:
  15. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Does he have an interest in joining a group?

    My son has zilch interest in being cool or joining a group. He enjoys what he enjoys and is happy by himself (although we do push the activities) or with one person with his own nerdy interests. in my opinion only there is nothing wrong with being a loner UNLESS you are unhappy and lonely. I'm kind of a loner myself :)
  16. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    The one service for special needs children here all my acquaintances who have been involved through their kids have really liked. In pre-K they make up these separate groups for special needs kids. They have more adults per children, the adults are educated to handle many special needs, they use a lot of therapists etc. But the best part is, that only half or less of the kids have special needs and even they have different ones. Others are what they call 'support children' who are chosen for their good play skills, good language development and other skills. Both the parents of special need kids and support kids tend to love these groups and both special needs and healthy kids seem to develop better than in separate groups.

    There are some social skills you can teach well in structured situations and with role playing and what not. And those are important and for the lower functioning kids those skills may make that vital difference in how independently they can live in future, what kind of work may be able to do, if any etc. But for the kids who are more high functioning those situation don't tend to be the main challenge. For them the challenging ones are those real life, every changing, murky social games and politics even PCs have at time difficulties to navigate through. And yes, those are the ones you don't learn that well in structured situations with other difficult children.
  17. confuzzled

    confuzzled Member

    midwest mom....i actually do agree that there is nothing wrong with being a loner. in our case though, it sort of fosters a developmental stall....with no real peer group to model after, it becomes hard to foster appropriate growth. she will eventually have to function in the world...its fine to be a loner, but she also need to know how to get along in life.

    i see it with her even when we do things in her nerdy world--she has a hard time even among them. there is an awkwardness there that holds her back, and the older she gets, the harder it is to teach those skills...and the more isolated she becomes.

    its been a viscious cycle we cant seem to break. i'm pretty out of ideas and answers on the subject to tell the truth....but i do know the more i let her be, the bigger the issue seems to become.
  18. keista

    keista New Member

    SuZir, that is the DREAM group! I hope all that participate know how lucky they are!

    And you hit the nail on the head. The Social skills are great for lower functioning kids. Higher functioning need something much more practical. Despite it being called an INDIVIDUAL Education Plan, our schools still give out generic services.
  19. Californiablonde

    Californiablonde Well-Known Member

    I agree that there's nothing wrong with being a loner if that is what makes my son happy. He very much enjoys his alone time and it's like pulling teeth to try and get him to go outside and socialize, so I've finally given up trying. If my son is happier by himself then that's okay. I'm just worried that number one: he is going to say the wrong thing to the wrong person one of these days and there is going to be heavy consequences, and number two: how is he going to function at a job when he will be expected to communicate with other people on an every day basis. I'm afraid his career choices may be limited if he doesn't learn the proper way to communicate with others. Sooner or later he is going to be thrown out in the real world with nobody to help him along the way and I'm very concerned that he won't be able to function well on his own.
  20. keista

    keista New Member

    CB, he will learn to assimilate to a degree. as soon as he realizes his behavior is causing a problem for HIM, he'll start trying to figure it out. Anyway he will probably be an engineer of some kind and fit in perfectly. 50% of them are Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and the other 50% are borderlines. lol