Friendships anonymous

September 28, 2009 at 6:01 am 5 comments

     I was reading a book the other day that weighed the pros and cons of integrated classrooms against self-contained classrooms for kids with an autism or Asperger’s diagnosis. The point that intrigued me the most (and one I hadn’t considered) was that in a self-contained classroom, remedial social skills training is part of the curriculum.

     C has never been a candidate for a self-contained classroom, but reading the book made me wonder why remedial social skills aren’t a part of the general curriculum for all children. Kindergarten certainly seems to be all about social skills, and while each teacher C has had since has done a wonderful job of creating community in the classroom, I watch those lessons not carry to the very places C struggles: the playground, the lunchroom, and standing in line. Truth be told? It’s the other kids’ response to C that bothers me the most. He may miss some social cues, but darned if he isn’t putting forth the effort. What happened to a grade of “A” for that?

     To argue that school is only about academics is crazy; studies show that pro-social skills in 3rd grade are a greater predictor of academic success in 8th grade than 3rd grade test scores. Yet it seems that the social skills training is mostly directed at the special needs kids. Friendship groups and social skills groups comprised only of kids with social skills challenges doesn’t teach our kids anything about interaction with their typical peers. 

     We’ve been fighting this issue of social skills groups for kids with autism at every school C has attended, and I’ve just never figured out why anyone would put a group of socially challenged kids in a room together and expect much success. I figure we can work on the academic stuff as it comes up, but the social skills are far more challenging to master. Yet it’s not just my child who needs training in this area. Quite frankly, I find many of his typical peers far more challenged in this area than C will ever be. I watched him compliment another child about his shirt recently, and I smiled at his earnestness and appropriateness in terms of timing, delivery, and tone. He probably shouldn’t have used the word “pretty” to describe the other boy’s shirt, but I figured he’d be forgiven the minimal error. When the other child merely grunted as a reply and turned away to talk to someone else, my heart broke just a little. Well, more than just a little.

     I wanted to put that other kid in a friendship skills group of his own. Where can I sign him up?

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I Yam What I Yam Celebration

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. therocchronicles  |  September 28, 2009 at 7:31 am

    I feel the SAME way. Parents don’t seem to be teaching manners, politeness, respect for everyone anymore. My husband and I both remember being punished for slights that we gave other children either in our parents presence or that they heard about (overhearing our gossip most likely) and I just don’t feel that is happening at home and it sure isn’t happening at school. I don’t remember having any “social skills” type instruction beyond kindergarten and that hasn’t changed. I SEE how inclusion has positively affected the Roc and am glad that he is not in a self contained classroom. I think the kindergarten teachers he has are doing an awesome job, I wish that would continue as the years went on, but I know that it won’t…and that makes me wonder how we can change that. We would have to open the eyes of the typical parent though-and I that may be hard to do in our ME, ME, ME competitive society.

    Reply
  • 2. lynnes  |  September 28, 2009 at 8:32 am

    I agree – in some ways, I feel G is held to a higher standard than typical kids. I’ve gotten so sick of it that I’ve decided to go the route of parenting other kids, lol. So if someone is rude to G I correct them and ask them to try again more politely,etc. Never the popular thing with other parents, but I am so tired of teaching G skills that other kids don’t practice!

    Reply
  • 3. Goodfountain  |  September 28, 2009 at 11:29 am

    I hear you loud and clear on this. I feel like Charlotte is so polite and I hate it when I see others not even acknowledge her.

    Reply
  • 4. robinaltman  |  September 28, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    I agree one hundred percent! There is so much negative behavior in kids’ social interactions, it drives me buggy. I wish parents and schools would be really strict about mean comments, slights, rudeness, etc.

    When the boys were little I drilled into them that if they were ever mean to anyone, I’d kill them. So when they told me a story about school, they’d feel compelled to say, “But I was really nice. I swear!” Kids don’t know on their own. You have to teach them. My sons might be morons, but by God they’re nice morons.

    Reply
  • 5. Erica77777  |  September 30, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    Amen to that. I feel the same as Goodfountain. B is unfailingly polite and often asks me why so-and-so isn’t responding to him. Grrr.

    Reply

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