Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Socialising and Aspergers

My son isn't great at social skills.

He can't read the emotions of others very well and he has a tendency to concentrate on his own needs and feelings first. He can't read a room and he doesn't take cues from the body language of others.

Last week we went ice skating and everyone was skating anticlockwise. He skated clockwise, which seemed to sum his general outlook quite well; the boy who skates clockwise in an anticlockwise world.

Since we have been homeschooling, I have been even more eager to seek out opportunities for interaction with others. I'm signed up to goodness know how many newsletters for home edders and parents of special needs kids and generally, if something is organised and it is nearby, we will join in.

So I got an email a few days ago about a local sports group for disabled kids and their siblings and the good news was that it was a short walk from my home. I love anything like this because the other parents don't look at you like you've got two heads when your kid is acting oddly. With special needs families there is a kind of "we are all in it together" buddy mentality and natural camaraderie.

So I turned up with my son and received a warm welcome. So far so good.

The first game was where you dance around and have to run into a corner. All of the corners have colours and then someone picks a colour and everyone in that corner is out. My son was "out" very early in the game, which caused him to stomp off in a rage.

He soon found the chill out room, which was full of food and drinks. Whilst the other kids played together in the main room, my son sat on his own in the other room. He complained it was too noisy in the hall and he needed to get away to chill out.

When he did finally rejoin the group, they had moved on to team games, which he had no concept of. He soon tired of all the teamwork and whilst the other kids cooperated nicely in a game of volleyball, my son ran around the perimeter of the hall with a hula hoop round his waist and a green glittery pompom on his head. He was having fun, just not the social sort I had hoped.

I came away wondering what I had gained from this experience. My son had enjoyed himself most when alone and not interacting with the others. Should I be forcing him into these situations, I thought to myself. He doesn't seem to be getting anything out of it.

I found a balanced article on the subject on the Your Little Professor website.

One Aspergers child said:  “If you like being on your own, then be happy with your own company and don’t let anyone convince you it’s wrong.” His advice to “pushy parents” is “Never force your child to socialize. Most Aspies and autistic people are happy to just be by themselves.”

So for now I won't be pushing it, although we do have a home-ed art class this week and a kids party at the weekend. Maybe I will bring along the hula hoop and green glittery pompom to keep him occupied...

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