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5yr old DS poor social skills

(7 Posts)
pooreyecontact Sun 09-Dec-12 12:01:56

DS (5) is in reception. He has always had poor social skills for his age - e.g poor eye contact and sometimes difficulty playing directly with other children. He has never dressed up. However, on the positive side, he will try and join in (e.g. run and join a group of boys playing on the climbing frame) and can seem to do OK as 'one of the lads' rather than chatting in a one-to-one context. He generally has poor eye contact and often doesn't greet others. Some of this is shyness but often it seems that he doesn't understand social chat. For example, I invited one of his classmates for a playdate. The classmate ran over to say "I'm going to your house today'. DS did not respond. When I questioned him he say 'I know that already' - so he didn't see a need to speak.

Academically he is fine. His reading is coming on. He recognises his numbers to 20 and can do simple sums. His writing is weak but progressing. Nursery were a bit concerned about him, though his current reception teacher is fab and not concerned. He loves her so is willing to do as asked.

He went to the school nursery and seemed to be doing OK socially. However, in reception I've noted that he's getting invited less to parties - including by boys who I would have considered his best mates. Playdates are generally because of my initiation and not always reciprocated. The other mums always say he's behaved well, but I'm not sure if they're being honest. I'm tempted to ask one of the mums if all is OK, but am holding back as it seems like a recipe for social death.

I suppose my questions are two-fold.

1. Does this sound like a wider developmental concern? Noone has ever mentioned ASD. I realise that he has some symptoms but not others - e.g. he does do some imaginative play (not dressing up but playing with little figures) and is very cuddly.

2. What can I do to help his social skills? I am working on eye contact, greeting people and being a little pushy in arranging playdates.

DeWe Sun 09-Dec-12 13:23:49

I don't think asking mums if it's been okay is "social death". If I had a child who was a pain over and the mum said "Look I'm worried about him, how would you honestly say he plays/behaves at your house". I'd probably be positive but honest, if that's possible, and it would probably make it more likely I'd invite him back. Because rather than just thinking he's badly behaved, you are expressing concerns over his social skills.

My ds is in year 1 but very similar. I have concerns over him. But his hearing is poor (glue ear) and so far everything points to that. have you checked hearing?

pooreyecontact Sun 09-Dec-12 13:46:02

We haven't checked hearing, though I'd be surprised as he was an early talker, but will do.

Glad you think it's OK to ask for honest feedback. I'd partly said social death as the mum I was thinking of asking is the one who hasn't invited him to the birthday party, and I didn't want to question any decision on that. I have also been reluctant to have him labelled as 'different' and I've been hoping that he would grow out of any issues. But it may be better to be upfront about it.

lingle Sun 09-Dec-12 14:58:50

1. Yes - but you've probably already identified it - he doesn't know how to join in. I have no idea whether he'd fall in or out of the current ASD definition and we can't know whether he'd catch up by himself (I think most people develop successful copying strategies rather than truly catching up).

2. I'd go to the website and look up their book "Talkability". it's available cheaper at Winslow publications. I was absolutely unscrupulous at this age. Joined the PTA, did people favours, gave the neighbours' kids lifts, was the "fun mum" on the street, had popcorn ready with a cool video, used and abused cool older brother, read everything I could but kept my own counsel. Anything to give my son experience of social success at a one-to-one level even if it lasted only 15 seconds at first ..... now he's seven and finally seems able to converse with his classmates in the playground (a bit). Oddly, I've been on the receiving end of this treatment too, as my other child is "cool but nice" - Currently, I accept a lot of lifts from a family who I know damn well are going out of their way because they feel it's good for their son to be with my son: it works fine but we are both more comfortable leaving it all unspoken....... absolutely no way would I ask why he hadn't been invited to the birthday party - I would instead talk to the teachers (who, by the way, always seem more comfortable about these discussion if you talk about your child's "skills" "developing" rather than other people's children leaving him out....) - I think it's putting an unfair burden on the other mum - but we all have different strategies.

by the way - one trick I missed was to put his name down for beavers/cubs - seems to be a really good thing for children who need help with their social skills.

sununu Sun 09-Dec-12 15:36:33

I have two super-social sons and one who finds it much harder, in part due to late speech and mild sn.
Totally agree with lingle, my response has been to put a lot more work in myself on his social life - being very friendly in playground and providing super playdate experiences that are fun for the kid but also of type approved of by mums (creative activities, healthy food, crafts to take home - yes, calculating in a way I suppose). He actually has a nice group of friends now and plenty of playdates back and forth. There are still times when he obviously doesn't really know how to play with the child who is visiting, but I let him have his own time if necessary and step in myself or let one of his brothers fill the gap.

WiseDad Tue 11-Dec-12 00:05:23

I read the posts for reference but yours was so importannt to respond to so i registered. We have lived a very similar scenario to yours and i can let you know how it worked out. My eldest was "shy" and we were told all was well by the niceteacher in reception. We were told that our son was"progressing well"and we shouldn't worry. He got fewer and fewer invitations until they dried up completely. He hated writing as "it hurt".

That was a few years ago... Now my son has a diagnosis of Asperger's or very high functioning ASD. He has targetted support with a tutor at home for the last eighteen months which has made an enormous difference.

The most important thing you can do is "plan for the worst but hope for the best

WiseDad Tue 11-Dec-12 00:27:54

sorry,posted early.

Plan for the worst means you should contact your local autism diagnosis service NOW and think of how you can help your son if he has Asd. It doesnt mean that you give up, nor does it mean that he cant be successful at school or life. It does mean that you will have to deal with the low expectations of teachers who will think that the child is doing well if they perform at an average level academically despite being highly intelligent.

The professionals only deal with your child for a year but their impact could last a lifetime. This means, unfortunately,challenging them before they do lasting damage. Don't settle for ok as a performance level. Ask for details. Ask how your son is doing relative to other children in the class and his age group. Ask for precise definitions of their expectations relative to the average child. Ask why they have that expectation as opposed to higher or lower ones.

Our son has been failed by well meaning teachers who thought that slightly above average was actually a good performance by our son, so they told
us he was "doing well". When his younger brother started to catch up we realised all was not well. After delays and more poor feedback we paid for an ed-psych report. It was eye opening and really useful.

Even if the professionals tell you everything is alright trust your instincts. Dont be put off by nice but hollow words.

We,after much pushing,are now getting more support for our son, but only through my wife's unstinting efforts. The (private) school has been near useless in recognising the condition.

Message me if you need more info or details or anything. You are alert to the issue early so don't spend a year worrying but not dealing with it. Get ahead of the issue.

Best wishes.

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