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Teaching social skills to verbal primary age children (mine's 8)

(9 Posts)
goonIcantakeit Wed 23-Oct-13 21:22:35

I've been looking at the "Asperkids" book and the Unwritten Rules of Friendship Book to try to get tips on helping ds2, who now has subtle social problems.

It's parent-teacher evening tomorrow so I've been thinking in particular about what I can expect a busy teacher to spot and help with (bearing in mind that teachers are not on the playground). So far I came up with....

1. voice modulation. DS2 over-modulates his voice (it used to be his key way in to understanding language.....) so he sounds like a Simpsons character. His voice is strident/screechy. I'm going to ask his teacher to help him work on using the same loudness level as the person talking to him.

2. Not being the policeman. I heard a sports coach pick up on and repeat DS2's complaints about bad behaviour in a class back to the class and I winced thinking, Oh no, don't encourage him! I'm going to ask teacher to help him understand that when there is an authority figure in the room he shouldn't do the discipline himself....

3. I'd love some advice help on a poor strategy he now has which is to interrupt, calling the other child by name, be a bit ignored, and so interrupt again, a bit louder.... then do it again until he gets attention.... Hmm, perhaps one to work on more at home? Eight years of encouraging a child to talk can make you overlook this behaviour at home perhaps.....

He is also into entertaining his peers with mild physical clowning as a way of being accepted. Not a terrible strategy, but there are better ones... He said that his cubs group "think I'm awesome, and if I didn't make those noises they wouldn't think I was awesome". I have a vague memory of being a verbal "entertainer" myself at a similar age. I had no fallback once others were ready to move on!

I would love to talk with anyone else who is trying to help their child with social skills, whether at a more or less advanced level. And would love any tips or thoughts about DS2.

PolterGoose Wed 23-Oct-13 21:55:21

The best interventions for my ds at school have been the subtle ones embedded in a normal school day. Social skills groups were a waste of time. What has worked has been dedicated TA support in small group work (eg taking the maths group to do their work outside the classroom) as a way to subtly model and rehearse social skills with ds, and one year there was a weekly group for some of the brighter children (not necessarily the highest academic achievers, more those with enquiring minds IYSWIM?) where they did all sorts of stuff including sudoku, Roman numeral sums, fountain pen writing, interesting thinking stuff, it was a great way for ds to practise his working in a group of like minded children, ones he wouldn't normally interact with. I was so sad when it stopped as they refused to carry it on the next year as the TA who did it was confined to one year group angry. I've found it almost impossible to teach the type of skills he needs for school at home because it's impossible to replicate the setting in any way and ds just can't generalise his learning, for him it has to be done at school.

We've got a lady who does social skills lessons at home with my two - the school won't let her in, despite their budgets being slashed to the extent that they have almost nothing.

She talks to them about identifying feelings, does some CBT with them, and gives them homework including asking them to say hello and goodbye voluntarily, and playing with two different kids from their class but games that my kids would predict that they would enjoy. Quite hard stuff for them!

DS1 is 9, DS2 is 7. They get lollipops if they do their 'homework' (agreed with us).

My DS1 does this high pitched squeaking sound btw which started at about the time we got hamsters and which he says the other kids laugh at (and I'm thinking...they may not be laughing with you...). I'm really hoping he stops it by the time he gets to secondary school or he's going to be learning not to do it the hard way!

Ilisten2theradio Thu 24-Oct-13 10:06:04

Woul he get upset if you mirrored his talking and interrupting? Not all the time but enough for him to notice and for you to have the conversation that to you this is what he sounds like and how that makes him feel when someone talks to him in this way.
I know it sounds odd but as it is difficult for my DS to put himself in the place of another, it is one way of showing him why we sometimes react to his voice or interruptions the way we do.

I also agree with Polter that the best social skills interventions have been those embedded in a normal school day ( or a home day if we correct and explain from time to time). We found that some of the more formal small group stuff at lunch or break-time worked pretty well as they played board games, or played games where a childinvented the rules and the others had to follow, they had lunch together and chatted, and it was led by a TA who could intervene and redirect as and when necessary.

goonIcantakeit Thu 24-Oct-13 12:42:30

Wild and Woolly. Ooh, how does one find such a lady?

Ilisten.... recording would be an option. Perhaps embedding it in something else rather than doing it to prove a point. Actually, now I come to think of it, he may be aware that his voice can be odd......

His brother is now nearly 11 and getting less patient with him.... perhaps that is a good thing?

I will use the word "embedded" at parent teacher evening tonight! I don't want to send them off down any wild goose chases/sending him to social skills classes since, as others have said, that isn't a path that he would benefit from now.

goonIcantakeit Tue 29-Oct-13 14:10:34

Update: I got told, at parents' evening to "chill out".

Now where have I heard that before.....?

Oh yes, I remember, when I was told by health professionals to accept the negative prognoses they had for DS2 at the same time as other mothers told me that they were, well, more "relaxed" than me, and didn't "worry" so much.....

It was when those two things happened on the same day I knew that being told to "chill" is not always good advice. Though that doesn't mean you should never chill out....

Ho Hum.....

zzzzz Tue 29-Oct-13 14:58:40

I think TV/DVD is enormously helpful for social skills. To be honest DVD is more useful because you can watch it repeatedly and talk about what's ok/not ok, why people are behaving as they are, who you "like" and why and who you don't AND WHY! grin

We have similar issues. I think for me one of the hardest parts is consistency between me and Dh. At the moment our "conflict of expectations" revolves around the volume of ds's conversation (which is innapropriately loud). I see this as a very minor problem and not something to focus on, Dh thinks it is a big deal and causes social problems and people to treat ds with less compassion. My Dh is not white, and I suspect actually it is just that in my very white middle class corner of the UK people are more tolerant of "dowdy housewife with disabled son" than "brown man with noisey large boy". Whatever the reason, the difference in expectation is a problem.

TheLightPassenger Tue 29-Oct-13 14:59:23

Re point three; do you think he may be mirroring how you might get his attention, i know i may have to be q repetitive to get my ds attention.

Re;parents evening, unsurprising but irksome. I think that teachers arent trained to be concerned about subtle difficulties so wont spot them unless behaviour or possibly academic difficulties go alongside. Only one of my ds teachers seemed to grasp why i might have concerns about his quirkiness

goonIcantakeit Tue 29-Oct-13 17:51:58

interesting about you and your DH zzzzz and the voice pitching. It shows how the difficulties at this level are hard to agree on, hard to work on. I hope that watching tv does help!

TLP, re point 3, hmm, I think you are right - I could model that better ..... if I can be that good!

re parents' evening: I've come to accept that half the teachers are a bit scared of me. The old headmistress was a big fan of mine because she considered me to achieved a lot with DS2 and to have led a team of three (me her and the super-bright nursery manager) to achieve a big success story. Sometimes having someone singing your praises is not an unmitigated good. Current teachers do a jobshare, and the younger teacher seemed a bit nervous, saying he was "literal" (he isn't particularly, it's just he sometimes doesn't understand what she says) then agreeing he wasn't. Older one told me to chill.

Last year's teacher had the intellectual firepower and teaching technique to help DS2, but the heartwarming-yet-funny thing was that she is a bit like DS2 herself: behaviours that society considers quirky she just considered desirable! She is the school's only trained scientist, and it goes back to that "how- would- our- kids- be- described- differently -if-schools-were-staffed-by-engineers?" point.

What's the teacher like who "got" you lightpassenger?

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