Saturday, May 2, 2009

Why we're looking into social skills groups now

Adam doesn't have an IEP. He does have a 504 Plan. And for the most part, it really is all he needs. Because he's in the GT program, it's hard to show where the educational impact of Aspergers comes in. Because, for him, academics are not the issue.

For him, his area of weakness is social skills and organization. He can greet and have conversations, and in several settings appear typical to an untrained eye. But he definitely has his moments.

One of them was this week. He came home very upset. As in got his stuffed animal and rocked (I've never seen this reaction before). Seems at the end of lunch while his class was waiting for the teacher to pick them up from the cafeteria he went over to a peer and the peer pinched and pushed him away. Adam left, but then returned and was once again pushed. He left and returned for a third time to which the peer told him to go away.

I asked him why he kept going back if he was getting pushed. Adam told me it was because he wanted to talk with some of the kids that were congregated. He told me after the 2nd time it occurred to him that maybe if he stopped singing the others wouldn't mind him being there.

"Wait, you were singing Adam?"


"What were you singing?"

"The National Anthem"

"Ummm, why?"

"I just wanted to see if I still remembered all the words. Then I thought that was why they didn't want me there. Because maybe they didn't want to hear that song."

Adam's been having more interactions with peers this year that start off OK (well, OK, this one was doomed from the start), but after the initial conversation Adam has difficulty reading others cues, or when there is more than 2 kids with Adam in the conversation.

We alsy happened to have a doctor's appointment this week. For the first time his pediatrician recommended social skills groups, and I'm thinking he might be right.

But here is my concern with social skills groups: you stick a bunch of atypical kids in a room to learn and practice contrived situations. And then you send them home. There is no one to monitor the child practicing to give corrective feedback or praise in the natural setting. Which is why we've never signed him up for them before. And because there is no educational impact he doesn't get special services in school (and honestly, to work on this particular skill, in a natural setting without a teacher making it look obvious to the peers would be VERY difficult).

I've always worked on the skills with Adam 1:1 with a rationale, model, and practice; and then worked on them with him with play dates. And it's worked. But he's getting older. He doesn't always want me with his play dates. And he hangs outside more with the neighborhood kids. It's getting harder for me to do this.

It just may be time to try a social skills group.

*the student pushing him did have a consequence of having to eat in the principals office the next day.


Stimey said...

Social skills are tough. I'm sorry your guy is having a tough time.

Cathy said...

Ethan has a lot of the same issues, and it's so frustrating because social cues are so so hard to teach. I felt like the last group he was in didn't go beyond greeting and taking turns, which Ethan does pretty well, thank goodness. But he definitely still has issues, which is why he hasn't made too many friends at school