Here are more of my notes from a fantastic class by Michelle Garcia Winner which I hope are helpful. This is my interpretation of her class along with some of my own thoughts interjected so if I get any of this wrong my apologies as she is the expert and I am just attempting to translate. Some of this blog is taken directly from her power point like the info just below.
Here is a FREE website in the power point for actual info from her directly- http://www.socialthinking.com
Signs your child is significantly challenged on the social communications scale (SCSC):
language development is affected-make sure they don’t have appraxia
not naturally attentive to others-but they like people
extremely weak interpretive and expressive systems
communication primarily for wants and needs
requires very close assistance from adults
demonstrates talents in certain areas like puzzles, reading decoding
make sure the child has augmentative communication assessment to assure he is not “locked in” before deciding they are SCSC.
Social Thinking is not typically effective for kids with SCSC significantly challenged social communicators. These students make progress with more concrete functional lessons.
The statement just above sounds harsh I think but realistic in that other programs will word for these kids just ones that are less abstract.
I decided not to list out the rest of the learners verbatim on this blog because you can get all of this info off the website above making a rewrite redundant but I kept the SCSC because I think it’s paramount to work with your child on socialization regardless of profile so finding something that works for them. When Bird was SCSC we had kids no-contingently hand him gummy bears without making any eye contact so that he would find worth in kids. He really did not have ANY desire to interact with even myself, his dad, his twin or older brother until around 4 and he found even being held adverse not seeking comfort from us when hurt or scared. At now 12 he is likely the warmest most hug seeking kid I know with empathy to spare and to often seeks friendships many times to his being rebuffed. Using concrete programming with Dill worked! Before he got to 3rd grade (Michelle’s bench mark for prognosis) he was very close to Nuance where he will likely always stay.
Michelle mentioned a great technique to help look at where your child’s needs are with regards to conversation and interest in others. She would interview a child and ask questions about interests, friends, school etc and than ask the child to interview her. Sometimes she would pull out a photo as a visual for the child to ask her questions about prompting them with available visual information.
One video of an interview with a girl really struck me as the girl looking at the picture instead of asking questions to Michelle simply started to tell Michelle what she thought she saw. Now as a parent I though…hmmm that’s pretty cool she is inference-ing but the reality was that she was not following the directions nor was she really interested in what Michelle’s story about the picture really was at all she just wanted to make statements and than move on without finding out anything about Michelle! When someone actually wants to know about you they ask questions, listen, make supportive statements and than maybe tie the conversation to something about them briefly not to Bogart the conversation but to bond them with this person. I am pretty sure that I would not have held Bird to the standards that she did and would continue to allow Wikipedia as I like to think of it for people who don’t interact they just drop facts on you. What makes it hard to bond with those people is that you don’t share connections back and forth with them they typically see themselves as separate from you and that stunts a deeper relationship. Not all people want to have deeper relationships btw.
Further when talking to Bird the other day about “social faking it” I am reminded that if you are not at all interested in what a friend has to say in that moment (I frequently bore people with tales of the fire dept and cooking) it’s okay to temporarily fake interest as long as your relationship is not based on things neither of you are interested in. Thanks Jen and Amy for enduring my long description about food I am making, think of making and have failed at making.
The highest social communicator (nuance) have the most chance of success and FAILURE! Because they have an “invisible disability” they also have more chance of not making it and will have no support system to call on. This group receives no state or federal funding for their disability.
I know I am again beating the dead horse but being the mom of a nuance social communicator is only half as tough as being the actual kid! Parents are so quick to tell their children (I HOPE) to respect the child with Downs, be helpful to the child in a wheel chair and admire the blind child who overcomes so much adversity. ALL of these statements are true and we should treat others with respect. What they don’t do is say,”Who is the kid in your class that kids don’t ask to birthday parties or avoid sitting next to at lunch?” Some parents are pretty excited about their child being part of the “in crowd” which then means you must have kids who are the “not cool kids.” On that note I would like to suggest that I don’t really want my kid hanging out with just anyone and neither does he. I would like the other kids to at least consider that being unkind to him or any of our kids says much more about their crap parents than it does about my child being socially odd. If you don’t have a child on the spectrum consider asking your child to stand up when someone intentionally goes after the easy mark since it would take the smallest gesture of simply standing closer to the victim and looking at the bully to stop his behavior many times. Just because my son (or your son or daughter) does not have a physical disability does not mean that just showing up everyday at a visually, aromatically and physically overwhelming place does not equate to climbing Everest each morning…because it actually does. How about a little respect for the “weird kid” you will likely be your kids boss one day…sorry had to say it for all the little Einsteins of the world who were socially rejected because people could do it not because they should.
Back to my notes tomorrow…I hope.