Hi, I'm finding it really hard to get my 6yr old son interested in socialising. He is absolutely fine in shops, meeting people when out and about,visiting family,having family over to the house etc. However, we thought it would be a good idea to enrole him in a local drama group. He went once and seemed okay, but when we got there the week after he had hysterics-he said it was too noisy and he couldn't cope (he has asd and adhd). We tried him in choir and he refused to go in, even with me staying. He wanted to go to karate but changed his mind at the last minute. What should I do? Just leave him until he decides he can cope? Force him to go?! Is this level of socialisation enough at 6 do you think? Apart from this I have no worries at all about taking him out of school, he has really blossomed so obviously being home educated is really working for him.
I would suggest that you take him to groups that you can attend together and tell him that you are going for you and that it is absolutely fine for him to spend the whole session sat right by you. Let him bring along a book or something to amuse himself while you chat. Just let him get there in his own time.
It is frustrating, but forcing him will just cause a backwards step and not be in his best interests. I expect that he will start to come out of his shell once he is used to a new environment and can then start to focus on getting used to new people as well.
Is he getting any support to help his ASD? Any large group such as you describe is going to raise his anxieties to stratospheric levels - I'm not surprised he freaked out.
I think you need to look at it from the point of view of where he is now and what he can, realistically, cope with. Maybe one new person but not lots, and preferably with a shared interest. Sometimes a slightly older child can be a good idea as they are often a little more tolerant.
Socialising is,of course, a good idea but you may find that your son doesn't think so
It was actually a really small drama group-8 children, and the choir was 6...otherwise I would not have taken him, plus I was there all the way through.
He only got help at school from behaviour support and cahms, although as we live in a very rural area, the help within a 60 mile radius is few and far between. We would like to meet up with another home ed family, or even a home ed group, but we have none within 60 miles.
I guess I'm just feeling worried that he is not getting to meet enough people, or even form any kind of bond with them.
Little and often is sometimes best. It might be a bit ambitious to expect a six year old with ASD and ADHD to tolerate a full drama session or karate class, it's probably something he needs to build up to.
You could try arranging less formal activities like going to the park with friends, but start with half an hour and gradually increase. Give him rewards if he copes well. Group activities like swimming, meet ups with other home ed families, but set a time limit and come away when it's up. Give him successes to build on, engineer it so it works and don't expect too much of him until he's ready.
The organised activities you've mentioned sound a bit challenging for someone of his age and dx. Lots of sensory stuff and uncertainty that I'm sure he'd find difficult. You might be trying to tackle all the problems at once so maybe you should slow down a little, take things slowly and one at a time.
My son is similar we took him to a small gym class ,at first he was very anxious but he settled quickly and i think it was good because he could just copy the other children and he didnt have to talk if he didnt want to.
That's the proble, he doesn't have any friends at all, as we live in the middle of nowhere and the nearest home ed groups are 60 miles away! That was the idea of taking him somewhere like a small drama group, so he could meet at leat some others in his age range. The problem with my ds is that it was just him and me from 10 months til he was 4, so he is very, very attached to me, and hates going anywhere where it is not just us doing something.
Have you looked to see if there are another home educating families near you? Maybe with children of a similar age? Then perhaps you could meet up with one child/parent together for a short while at first, ease him into things a bit.
Have you joined an HE yahoo group for your area? We live in the middle of nowhere too, and I was pleasently suprised to find quite a few children of a similar age to my ds (also 6) when I put up a message to find people.
What area of the counrty are you? I am sure someone on here will know of an internet listin for your area if you haven't found one yet.
I have only found one home ed family within 60 miles of here, we live in rural northumberland in the hills. All the nearest groups are 60 or more miles either way.
I have joined every yahoo group possible, believe me! Everyone must be hiding!
Gosh, it is such a difficult situation then! My friends father lives up there, about 25 miles outside Alnwick, deep in the countryside. Lovley, but very isolated!
Is there anything that your ds is really into? If he was really excited about doing something, maybe it would be easier for him to join in. I know you tried a drama group etc, so maybe you have exhausted all the options with groups.
How about a penpal at first? Maybe that would increase his confidence a little?
Personally I wouldn't worry
You said he is
"absolutely fine in shops, meeting people when out and about,visiting family,having family over to the house etc."
Seems to me he is getting all of the socialisation he wants/can cope with at the moment.
My elder child definately is on the Autistic Spectrum. When we first deregistered him (aged 13), he didn't want to go anywhere!
I remember offering to pay for any icecream he wanted, if he would just go and get it for himself. He shut the car door and said 'Don't need an ice cream that much"
He spent the whole of the first home ed meeting we went to, on my shoulder, saying "Can we go home now, let's go home now, can we go home now?"
Gradually slowly he came out of himself and began to mix.
At his own pace.
By the time he was 16, folks at home ed camps didn't realise he was anything to do with me as they never saw him with me.
By 17 he got a job by himself, took himself to FE college where he fitted in really well academically and socially.
He then chose to work and save until he was ready to go to Uni (so he doesn't come out with so much debt) He will be 23 when he finally gets there.
So it is later than everyone else, but so what?
Life I have learned, is not a race.
My two daughters have done things at a different pace again- and in some ways have raced past their older brother, but again in their own time.
Your son will get there in his own time-and be more confident for doing so than if he had been pushed IMO.
And not everyone needs big groups of people to sociaise with. Many children I know with ASD are much happier in a one to one/two situation.
Hell many adults are happier to do the same.
There is an interesting survey done to answer some of the accusations of the Badman review recommendations.
In doing so it looks at "as many real examples as possible of the type and frequency of community and social contact that our children actually have."
Not Hidden Home Educated
You might find it interesting.
I agree with Julienoshoes. All in good time. I'm happy to spend days on end by myself. My son, who is 7, is the same. He doesn't like other kids much, doesn't like the noise, takes reading books to birthday parties, he's an unsociable git really. But when we go out and about he is happy to talk to anyone, older kids, adults, but finds little girls quite scary because they always want to kiss him . He's very gorgeous and has taken to winking at the cashiers in Tescos .
Your son will develop at his own pace, and the joy of home ed is that there's no need to rush his social development. As long as your son is happy, and doesn't feel isolated himself, there is no need to make yourself crazy over it. Please don't let anyone tell you there's anything wrong with there being just you and your son all this time. People sometimes misdirect their own guilt onto those who spend a lot of time with their children as though they are part of some kind of parenting competition - ignore them!
Hope you find something that suits you both. Keep on with the things he will do, even if it's just shopping or wandering about chatting.
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