Social skills classes for Aspies?


Active Member
My son has just been diagnosed with atypical aspergers. Basically, this kid needs help and aspergers is the closest diagnosis that she can come up with. It isn't a close fit, but close enough.

The psychiatrist especially wants him to take social skills classes, in the school if possible but he needs to take them SOMEWHERE. He is not picking up social cues or body language at all. Social skills is his most aspie trait.

So far so good. Until I spoke to the school. (sigh).

Special Education. says that this is a team decision to make (he has a 504). Well, this team has been pretty good. Except that the interventions that the lady in Special Education suggests does not sound appropriate.

For instance, the lady in the Special Education department says that it is most effective to work with the child in a class setting. Having him help the teacher, and such. That way, he can practice what he is being shown how to do. Well, that's OK for class, but I don't see how this will teach him how to interpret body language.

And, I don't really know what to ask for instead. I don't know enough.

Has any of your aspie kids had social skills classes? What was effective?

I likely have a week to come up with a game plan as everyone is busy with registration. That's good. That means that I can get the ball rolling before anyone else does. I think that the Special Education plan is likely to be too narrow in scope: Jack struggles in ALL social situations, not just the classromm routines!

Most of the people on the 504 team understand my difficult child pretty well; there are only a couple of new faces. The diagnosis of aspergers may be new, but some of his team know my difficult child VERY well, indeed! So, most of the team knows where my difficult child has trouble. I think I have a pretty good chance of getting a good plan implemented, if I can come up with something good BEFORE someone who does not know him sells her plan to the team.


New Member
The diagnosis should qualify him for a full IEP. My son's IEP included social skills help both through a friendship group (practicing social skills with peers) work with the speech therapist (recognizing social cues and using language appropriately), and work with the school psychologist (work on understanding social situations and developing coping skills.)

Ask if your school has a friendship group that he could join. If they don't, perhaps one could be organized. There are usually several kids in every school that could use the practice and help with making friends, even if they don't has an Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) diagnosis.


Active Member

I agree with Susan, try to get Jack an IEP now that you have an AS diagnosis.

The OASIS site has good school info and even a sample IEP, . Click on Education on the left and scroll to Sample IEP & ARD Documents.

In public school, my difficult child met individually with the Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) and social worker. He was also in two social skills group, (one with the Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) and one with the social worker). difficult child also received social skill help in unstructured times of the day (lunch, recess and art class). I agree with you that working with a teacher is probably not intense enough to help an AS kid.

We also did social skills classes privately on Saturday. difficult child has had social skills classes for 5 years now. Did it help? I don't know for sure. I guess I don't know where he would be without it but his social skills are still poor. The Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) said she has never met a child who knows social skills so well and applies so little of it. difficult child knows what to do and why to do it but sees no point in it. I guess this is a common problem with kids on the spectrum. It's the old, you can lead a horse to water . . . difficult child's current school has an even more intensive social skills curriculum. I hope it helps.

Another thing we did was have the team that diagnosis'ed difficult child do a school observation and come up with recommendations and IEP goals. I then brought the team to the IEP meeting and we got everything they suggested.

Good luck.



Active Member
Actually, he HAD an IEP until 6 months ago.

He was changed to a 504 because his grades averaged out to a B-. Also, he had met his scholastic and behavioral goals.

Jack does very well as long as a routine is followed. He simply memorizes what he needs to do, and he does it at the proper time. For elementary school, that is enough. It does not prepare him for life, though.


Well-Known Member
My son was just diagnosed high funcntioning autism, and I read that, at least in our state, autism is one of those diagnoses where the school HAS to give full autism services to the child, and that includes children with Aspergers. I am lucky to have two advocates working with me, and one has an autistic son and knows the rope; the other has been an advocate forever and knows the laws. If you can get an advocate, get one. If you can't learn the laws yourself because I've learned many schools try to get away with as little as possible. I'm not sure what kind of social skills my kid is going to get, but he WILL get some, and it has to be ok'd by my advocates or I won't sign the IEP. You should be entitled to an IEP with any sort of autistic diagnosis. if it is new. Don't let them bully you. good luck.


New Member

Would you please explain to me what is atypical aspbergers? My son has many aspie traits but the psychiatrist ruled it out because he doesn't have narrow interests, he has lots of imagination, can converse easily (with adults - not kids but psychiatrist doesn't see the differnce). My kid has no friends - never has. He can make them, but can't keep them. He can be annoying and then doesn't understand why kids call him annoying (to me that's a social cues issue).

I'm desperate to get the right diagnosis for my difficult child because I want services that will help him. I think the SW and psychiatrist just want to medicate so the meltdowns aren't so bad.



Active Member
I don't know what atypical aspergers is, but I DO know my son.

When he learns something, he sees that thing everywhere he goes. For example, at the beginning of summer he was interested in numbers, and he told the psychiatrist that it was hard to swim in the cub scout pool because it was 8 feet deep, and the pool he learned on was only 5 1/2 feet. He was correct, too. When he was interested in stories, he read the Harry Potter fifth book every night before bed, all 989 odd pages of it, and he read it twice befor he shifted to numbers for a bit.

He has trouble remembering who said what, but he can describe his video games practically play by play. He loves to play with kids, but he does the physical play like wrestling. He has trouble with more complicated play like pretending to be, for instance, firemen. He is also very rigid, and will occasionally tell a dear friend that if he can't have his way, that he will take him off of the friends list. And, he means least for a day or two.

I have spent my entire life trying to explain how the world works to Jack. He still has no clue as to why people do what they do. For him, people do things randomly. He sees no pattern to their behavior at all. When I point out a pattern, he does not believe me. As far as he is concerned, bad people do things because they are bad. Good people do good things (Like lend him a toy), because they are good. End of story.

He has ALWAYS been involved in activities, but I have often had to explain to the teacher that Jack does not understand, that he is not TRYING to disobey. He still has trouble with following simple instructions.

Where he is apparently DIFFERENT from Aspergers is that he is affectionate with us, and with favorite friends. He WANTS to be closer to people, he just does not know how. I have tried to help him with this, and I am good at teaching people things, but he does not learn and when I explain social things, he does not understand. But, when I explain how a machine works, he DOES understand!

This has not been an isolated child. To help, over the years he has been involved in dance, wrestling, T-ball, Cub scouts, and Karate. He has enjoyed them all, and interacted on a physical level with friends at every location. But, he STILL knows NOTHING of body language or social cues. He just does NOT get it!

And, Fran, thanks. Those resources look good. I will hit borders books today, and have some ideas to tell the new principal about when I have contact with her next week.


Former desparate mom
Terri H, you describe my difficult child. He isn't a clear cut anything. His incredibly gregarious,outgoing and personable. Sometimes, too much so. He can't judge what is too much or what is too little.
My difficult child has evolved out of the obsessive interest in one specific subject. It is more like a new hobby every 6 mo or so.
My difficult child unfortunately, has some blinding learning disabilities but we are trying to work around them.

Terri H. We did role playing a great deal when difficult child was able to "hear" what I was saying. We did this in particular, before a party or social occasion so he knew what to say or do. Shaking hands, eye contact, asking about others. We practiced the words like "how do you do" "it's a pleasure to meet you" etc.

My son is atypical AS, Atypical b/p and atypical everything. Makes it hard to figure out what to do to help.
I tried to look at the world through difficult child's eyes and understand what he was thinking and how his process worked. It becomes almost instinctual to know what difficult child will need in terms of explanation. I posted on SRL's thread about brainstorming for the new school year, what difficult child and I did to prepare for the new school year. It was that preplanning and role playing that allowed difficult child to know what he should do and say. He could be taught. He, still, isn't interested in what you have been up to but he at leasts asks.

(I make both he and his easy child brother ask us about our day at dinner.) :laugh: They sort of hate it but after a few years of following through with asking their dad how his day was or asking me about mine, it is what they do at dinner. (doubt they are really interested but difficult child had no clue what his dad did. It was work-the thought ended there)


Active Member
At my difficult child's school during lunch they have the kids sit in pairs and socialize. They have to ask about each other's day and carry on a conversation. My difficult child does this to earn the points but he will not do it at home. He thinks socializing is "a waste of my life." And on Friday's when they don't have to sit with another student, difficult child always chooses to eat alone.

It's the same thing with manners. At school, he will put a napkin on his lap and eat using proper manners because he wants to earn points. At home, he won't do it without a major fight. He thinks manners are "stupid". I can't get him to hold a door for me or show other common courtesies.

difficult child will not role play with me. He will not shake hands or hug his Grandma. He knows what to do but will not do it. I envy those of you that have difficult child's that will do these things. I have given difficult child the tools to use but it is up to him to apply them.

I sometimes wonder if the right girl might motivate him to apply the social skills he knows. I don't think difficult child will ever do it for his family. I have to keep hoping that he will change.



Former desparate mom
Elise, I have to admit that difficult child did not do any of this until after 13yrs old. He was so darn hyper that he couldn't possibly follow through on anything. He would learn it but never put it into use. Even for points, money,car or his life would he think to use it before he had some maturity and insight. I do have to thank egbs for insisting on all the students use proper, simple courtesies. It became habit to say hello when walking past someone. It became habit to say please and thank you despite having this done at home.

So have faith, that when he is in h.s. and someone points out his idiosyncracies that maybe, he will change it.
I also pointed out people in a restaurant who have table manners and ask why they are doing it. He can at least see it. I also point folks who have less than decent table manners and ask why that person isn't very appealing to sit near. Just so he can think about it. :wink: At least he was taught.


Active Member
My difficult child does not do well with role playing: it goes in one ear and out the other. The skills that he has learned in role playing does not seem to translate to real life.

Now, if I say "Jack, do this" while we are IN a social situation, , and he does it DURING that social situation, he MIGHT retain it! /importthreads/images/graemlins/tongue.gif

He also has a perfectly good reason for whatever he does. If he does something that baffles me, I just ask him. He can be pretty blunt.

Some of his more memorable statements when asked why he did something...."But, MOM, if I get more than a few answers right, the teacher will give me harder work!" , and, "I did NOT hit her! I only KICKED her VERY gently!"


New Member
Terri, your son sounds very similar to mine, too--mine is outgoing, affectionate, and friendly and actually makes friends quite easily on a casual basis, but cannot keep them. I think he might be getting a little bit better at that after 5 years of social skills therapy, but it's still hard to think of anyone he has that I could call a real friend.

He has a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) diagnosis rather than Aspergers because he does not have obsessive interests. He can converse quite well with people--adults tend to love him because he's very chatty and expresses all kinds of interest in them. Peers tend to think he's a little weird--

Like Fran's difficult child, mine also has some severe LDs mixed into the picture: He has a terrible time with math, and can barely write. I actually think those contribute more to his school difficultes than the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) does.

Mine didn't really start clueing into social skills and socializing until he hit about 6th grade, where he suddenly "discovered" other kids as playmates and decided that he wanted to work at being able to make friends. He doesn't call it "social skills": He calls it "acting cool". Once he had the desire to make friends, he put a lot more effort into his interactions with people.

Before that, it was as Elise described with her difficult child: He was able to go through the motions if there was a reward attached, but saw no reason to be polite or use manners "just because".

It sounds like social skills therapy would be a real benefit to your difficult child, so I hope you are able to wrestle some out of your school district. Now that you has an AS diagnosis, that should be easier. I have found that once my child had an Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) diagnosis, the school was far more cooperative and forthcoming with additional support than when he had "just ADD".


Active Member
Terri, I'm chuckling at your difficult child's comments. Just this morning difficult child said, "I didn't mean to hit easy child, I was just threatening him and got too close." The logic these kids comes up with is amazing, LOL!

Fran and Susan, You give me hope that maybe difficult child will improve as he matures. I always thought it was because he seems to have a bigger dose of autism, being that he is classic AS. He is not friendly, outgoing or gregarious. I'll keep my fingers crossed.



Former desparate mom
I sure hope for you Elise and your difficult child that he softens up and starts to be a bit more gregarious.

I agree that difficult child has more problems with the Learning Disability (LD) than the AS at this point. He still has a fair amount of volatility if he is pressed into a situation where he is trying to hide his disability.