Does the "social group" help?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Malika, Nov 27, 2012.

  1. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    For the past four weeks, J has been going to a social therapy group lasting an hour on Tuesday afternoons, organised by the local children's psychological/psychiatric service. It consists of three children, all aged 5 or 6, a nurse and a psychologist; I don't know exactly what they do - play, I suppose, accompanied by commentaries from the two adults?
    One of the children, a boy, is autistic (Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)) and the other, a girl, I have been told has ADHD but she seems only ever very quiet and self-effacing, to the complete opposite of the boys who (today anyway) made a complete ruckus in the waiting room.
    I don't want to seem negative, and I'm grateful for the offer of help, but I do wonder if it does any good and if so how. I see the adult staff at the centre all being very "firm" and telling J in no uncertain terms that he's not the boss, etc... unfortunately, I know this is not going to change him or have any effect on him. Will playing with other children with social problems help him in any way? He has to come out of school to do it, with the other kids being curious, making remarks about his absence, etc.
    Anyway, I'm really open to being persuaded. Could this be valuable? What do you think?
  2. whatamess

    whatamess New Member

    I would pull him from the group based on your description. I believe it is really not effective to lump socially challenged individuals in a group for social skills therapy. The children should be with peer role models, not being told do this or that by adults. I believe the most effective setting for developing social skills would be to have a teacher, parent or other knowledgeable individual provide guidance in natural settings and perhaps conduct large group discussion/instruction on problem-solving skills.
  3. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    I've seen social groups work. I've seen them not work. And I've seen them make things worse.

    It really depends on the quality of the people running it and their training, the mix of kids, and the social problems they are trying to solve.

    One that I've seen work (we didn't get in...) was a summer day-camp format. All of the kids had to be intellectually normal - but they had a variety of issues to go with their social skills problems. The camp activities gave them things to interact about - and the leaders were on top of every nuance, to teach them better ways of handing things. They knew now to defuse, who to pull out and how and when... That environment worked, and probably would have worked for difficult child as well.
  4. TheBoyHasArrived

    TheBoyHasArrived New Member

    It depends on what is actually happening in the group and what J's actual deficits are in social skills. In the district that I worked in before, there were social skills groups facilitated by the psychologist. They basically were a small group opportunity for the psychiatric to "help" the kids learn more appropriate ways to interact (for example, she would prompt a student to use his/her words to request materials, remind them of personal space, etc.); the point of the group was not to have the kids with social deficits learn from each other but to have a controlled, safe place to practice the skills. There was an outside group held by a speech-language pathologist that targeted social communication and focused on appropriate topics, volume, personal space, etc., as well. The idea is that 90% of their day, students are given the opportunity to learn social skills from their environment. A social skills group is a small group, safe group where feedback can be given immediately and directly (if it were a group of students with typical social skills, an adult might not have as much freedom to give feedback and modeling immediately without calling attention to the child's difficulties--in a social skills group, all students need support in that area, so it's not as big of a deal.)

    That said, it completely depends on the child and the adult facilitating whether social skills groups are beneficial. For my high functioning kids with autism/aspergers, it was fantastic because it gave them friends with similar interests. In my building, it was called Lego Club and the typical kids never knew what it was all about (and would want to go too).
  5. Ktllc

    Ktllc New Member

    As you might recall, I helped put a social group together in my community. We are taking a break for the holidays (as everyone's schedule is kind of hectic this time of year).
    So far, it is my 3 kids, one little boy with ADHD and a bunch of other issues (speech, and maybe cognitive) and one little Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) girl who is highly verbal.
    Partner is actually the role model for the group, all age between 5 and 7 (except for Sweet Pea!).
    The parents are present and participate to all the activities. The idea is for parents to learn from the experience (notive the successes and the challenges, see how the therapists handle the situations, etc...). And the purpose is to have fun altogether despite the challenges. Kind of a group bonding experience. Teaching the kids that a group can be a wonderful experience.
    The therapist, and sometimes the parents, are able to help the kids on the spot and give extra explanation to a social situation that V or the other ones might not understand.
    I'll give you an example: the little girl can be very loud and has a high pitch voice. V gets very distressed by it and covers his ears. I was able to make V go to her and V explained to her that her screams hurt his ears. The therapist than asked the little girl what she could do about it. She replied that she could be a bit more quiet! lol
    The following session, she was loud again and with one little prompt, V reminded her that it hurt his ears. She adjusted her voice right away.
    Right there is a situation that was handle in a socially appropriate anner and it would not have been possible without the help of parents and therapists.
    And during the session, there are a million little interactions that the therapist can help the kids with.
    I would not expect big results right away. But I am convinced it helps V as well as my other 2: Sweet Pea is stimulated and tries her best to talk (she is so cute!)and Partner is learning patience, empathy and also learns that he can have fun with all kinds of kids.
    If I were you, I would want to witness a few session in order to get a better idea. Would it be possible? I don't see why not. You can explain that your goal is also to learn from it.
  6. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    This is all helpful, thank you. Ktllc, you have been out of France too long :) I can just imagine the look the professionals will give me if I ask to come in on the group... that's not the way it's done, they will say!! Besides which, J will act up and be different if I am present. Your group sounds great, much more natural and helpful to the children since all the parents are present.
    I think the problems of the children are too diverse. J's problem isn't in interacting with other kids per se - making connections, being friendly, starting up a conversation and keeping it going. It's that he's too wild and hyperactive, leaping and rushing about too much, too focused on his own sensory dance particularly in new situations. And I just don't see how any force on earth other than medication could stop him doing that because he doesn't have that much control over it.
    They're doing their best, I am grateful for the offer of help as I say, but I'm having trouble seeing how this could make any difference to J.
  7. Ktllc

    Ktllc New Member

    If the hyperactivity is your main problem, you could try introducing J to the program "how does my engine run". We recently try doing it again with V (with help of his Occupational Therapist (OT)) but V is way to litteral to understand it and we were not able to explain it to him...
    You might have better luck! The idea is not all that complicated: a race car goes real fast, zoom zoom through everything and therfor, sometimes, knocks things down if it drives through a regular street or play ground. There are a place for a race car: the race track. J cannot fonction as a race car all the time, otherwise he might have negative consequences (need to find examples he can relate to)
    Than you have a car that runs just right (maybe your family car?) and that's really nice for everyone involved because it has time to pay attention to its surrounding and can speed up and slow down in a controlled manner.
    Than the slow car: needs gaz, can't really run good. You get the idea.
    If J does not relate to cars, he can pick animals (cheetah, dog and turtle maybe or whatever he wants really).
    The main idea is for him to let you know how he feels at specific moments: "I feel like a race car because I can't stop running and jumping". Once he can identify it, then you can offer activities to help him slow down and bring him back to the state of the car that runs just right.
    I'll email you some word cards that explain different activities that could help him slow down. I've selected the ones that are calming for V, J could of course react differently.
    V is not or at least does not appear to be as active as J, but we are havng issues again. He is in constant motion and even stiming every now and then (somethings I had never seen him do before). But to answer your questions: YES, one can help a child slow down without medications. It's the matter of finding the right sensory diet for the child.
  8. whatamess

    whatamess New Member

    "How does my Engine Run?" is a good idea, also, popular in schools for social skills is a program called "Super Flex" which uses cartoon characters to represent thought processes, moods, negative characteristics and Super Flex is the super hero who tries to understand these 'enemies' and defeat them. I think J really might enjoy learning about this program.