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can anyone comment on these social skills ideas of mine please? (moondog are you about?)

(64 Posts)
lingle Thu 22-Sep-11 21:48:38

My DS2 (resolved receptive language, possibly resolved sensory, anxiety) is now 6 and starting Year 1, doing very well. Social issues: likes to stick to one best friend and tends to go hang out with (mutually devoted) big brother on playground at breaktime. General social anxiety still there. So I've written to head asking for a plan for the year and I've said this:

"He also still seems to blank children other than his closest friends when they ask him questions or make remarks unexpectedly. I'm wondering if teaching him a set of "neutral" responses that will buy him time might help: even just learning to say things like "oh" in response to a remark, "umm....I don't know" in response to a question and "hello" in response to a greeting (rather than the current silence or "No") would buy a bit of time for him to process/relax, and count as a reasonably appropriate response- which might in turn reduce the anxiety of these encounters. We have been talking about saying "kind" things so I think he is ready for this."

My thinking is this. There's bound to be a big anxiety element to this "blanking" because DS2 doesn't blank DS1 or his best friend but he will blank people he likes like neighbours seen out of context in the school canteen. He obviously doesn't know what to say/do. So I reckoned if we simplied the responses right down, he might discover that the social demands of 6 year olds are not as great as he thought.

It's a kind of "learn by rote to get rid of the panic" idea, hence wondering what moondog thinks.

I'll appreciate any comments/context/more grownup names for similar things or even just more examples of "one size fits all" responses to questions from children. Or anyone who has tried out strategies for the same problem.

best wishes to all.

moondog Thu 22-Sep-11 21:56:22

I think it's a great idea and I often teach kids or advise people to teach them to say 'I don't know' or 'I'm not sure' or 'Can you help me'

Going through what you do behaviourally when someone greets you and practicing it (eg looking at them, smiling and saying 'hello') is useful too.

I haven't used her stuff recently but Alex Kelly is pretty well known in this field and her books are very accessible.

graciousenid Thu 22-Sep-11 22:14:34

I've recently (in the last 3 weeks) taught my ds 'I don't know' & it has made a MASSIVE difference to his attention, social skills & anxiety levels - why did no-one suggest it to me before!?

He had a major problem with ignoring people - everyone said oh that's just what kids with ASD do, he'll only respond on his terms, when it is about a subject of interest to him blah blah blah hmm When I actually analysed it it was glaringly obvious that he was blanking people when he didn't understand what they were going on about (big receptive issues still) or didn't know the appropriate response. ds HATES getting stuff wrong/failure & major anxiety surrounding not being right, so was paradoxically becoming more withdrawn as his language improved & social demands on him increased. IDK has completely changed the quality & quantity of interactions with adults & peers. I'm honestly blown away by the change it has made.

StarlightMcKenzie Thu 22-Sep-11 22:21:41

LOL, I was just about to come onto this thread to suggest the OP looks for Lingle - grin

StarlightMcKenzie Thu 22-Sep-11 22:29:15

I don't know was the worst thing ds ever learnt. Now he doesn't know anything! wink

Brilliant that you're still on top of things Lingle. I would agree with you that he needs to learn and practise those other things.

I dream that ds will have a friend like that, but you also have to be aware that a best friend may well learn to compensate and understand things without your ds having to articulate properly, simply because he knows him well, similarly with siblings.

So I think you're doing the right thing trying to expand the people he interacts with, as they won't be as forgiving as friends, and he needs to get practice at that.

The brilliant news is that you have a sibling and friend to play the partner in any learning or games.

And you know what? We all do the rote response when we a)Aren't listening, b)don't care, c)surfing the internet etc etc.

It's a useful skill.

anonandlikeit Thu 22-Sep-11 22:37:39

we are trying to work on this with ds2 thet problem we are having is him actually recognising & realising that he is anxious becuase someone has approached him or because he needs to ask for help.
At the moment he is still so overwhelmed by the feeling of panic that he cannot recognise when he needs to use his learnt responses IYKWIM.
It is a work in progress & while we are goingthrough the responses his OT & psych are working with him to identify feelings of anxiety.

graciousenid Thu 22-Sep-11 22:48:29

lol ds may get to the point that it's a get out-clause (atm if he doesn't want to do something it's 'I'm a bit too tired' or 'I need a rest' or 'I feel a bit ill' or 'I can't do that because it's raining'!) but he's still enjoying telling everyone stuff he knows (dd2 on the other hand has latched onto it & everything is I don't know said with a smirk!).

anon it is only quite recently that ds has been able to differentiate feeling scared from feeling angry - that's made a difference to his ability to ask for emotional/social help (he's always been pretty good asking asking for help to get things/information he wants but social stuff has been too sophisticated up until recently).

Parasaurolophus Fri 23-Sep-11 10:40:58

I think it isn't completely developmentally inappropriate for 6-year olds to blank people they aren't familiar with. My child and his friends do this all the time.

However, I have had great success teaching scripts to children with social anxiety. They practice stock answers just like you suggested. Once they can say their stock answer and get a response, they do seem over that initial panic and can then engage more creatively. Here is a good book on the topic:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Teaching-Conversation-Children-Autism-Scripts/dp/1890627321

Parasaurolophus Fri 23-Sep-11 10:42:37

Here is the link for the book: www.amazon.co.uk/Teaching-Conversation-Children-Autism-Scripts/dp/1890627321

lingle Fri 23-Sep-11 12:38:35

Oooh Booooooooooooks......! <reaches for Amazon>

thank you everyone.

lingle Fri 23-Sep-11 12:43:49

"He had a major problem with ignoring people - everyone said oh that's just what kids with ASD do, he'll only respond on his terms, when it is about a subject of interest to him blah blah blah hmm"

Oh I am furious on your behalf.

What's that model from? The 1930s?

lingle Fri 23-Sep-11 12:45:18

"it isn't completely developmentally inappropriate for 6-year olds to blank people they aren't familiar with."

thanks, yes, always good to remember this. I started a thread in education about him hanging out with his brother and absolutely all the respondents replied saying "great no problem that's natural!". Always hard to strike that balance isn't it?

lingle Fri 23-Sep-11 12:46:00

"I've recently (in the last 3 weeks) taught my ds 'I don't know' & it has made a MASSIVE difference to his attention, social skills & anxiety levels - why did no-one suggest it to me before!? "

Ooh that's exciting I'm crossing my fingers it will work for me too.

moondog Fri 23-Sep-11 12:47:44

The most dangerous thing of all with what I loosely descibe as people with additional needs is the tendency to over pathologise everything.

Beware of this.
Beloved of rafts of public sector workers in the 'caring and educational sector' justified the continued funding of their (non ) jobs.

Not that I am cynical or anything. Oh no.

<angelic smile>

lingle Fri 23-Sep-11 12:59:56

"Brilliant that you're still on top of things Lingle. I would agree with you that he needs to learn and practise those other things."

thank you Starlight. I was getting stressed and worried about this. I was also feeling under pressure to drop the issue/feeling as if this was just me being obsessive. Even my lovely paediatrician neighbour was hinting I should just calm down. Thank goodness I can still come and talk to you lot.

I saw the headmistress today and have a meeting set up for Monday. Maybe the books will arrive before then - hope so. I reminded her how many young girls squirm and feel awkward when paid a compliment until that magic day when someone explains that all you have to do is say "thank you", look them in the eye, smile, and the awkward encounter will then miraculously go away! So we all need scripts.

She said she felt it shouldn't be a big problem given all the progress DS2 has made so far so let's hope she'll put a good plan in place.

In fact, I think one of my "issues" as an only-just-NT adult is a failure to use scripts when a script answer is what is actually required. ie someone comments on the weather... my mind races on several steps....my response might then refer to climate change or how the clouds are a funny pattern. When in fact a script response is the polite response (unless you're courting and happy for a man to fall in love with your quirkiness). My brother, on the other hand, whose problem are rather more severe than mine, can only respond using scripts unless talking about specialist subjects.

lingle Fri 23-Sep-11 13:09:55

Interesting moondog, and I see where you are coming from.

It's the same with old-fashioned lawyers. You don't have time to help properly (because it would be too expensive). So you try to make it all sound obscure and difficult so no-one can ask you a straightforward question. And often that stops the client applying straightforward common sense.

LeninGrad Fri 23-Sep-11 13:12:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

lingle Fri 23-Sep-11 13:33:24

just curious now - why do some people never get beyond script-talk? Like my brother? Do they just learn it too (developmentally) early and never progress? Or do parents tend to fail to "fade" the script?

It must be something that could be overcome if you catch the child at the right time.

StarlightMcKenzie Fri 23-Sep-11 14:42:33

Okay, this is the script we are doing with ds. We practice it a lot. It is just a rote thing and doesn't mean we have done any of these things.

1a. SEASIDE

Person: 'I went to the seaside!'
DS: 'What did you do at the seaside?'
Person: 'I had an ice cream.'
DS: 'What Ice Cream did you have?'
Person: 'Vanilla'
DS: 'I like Chocolate'.

2a. ZOO

Person: 'I went to the zoo!'
DS: 'What did you do at the zoo?'
Person: 'I saw some animals'
DS: 'What animals did you see?'
Person: 'I saw a giraffe!'
DS: 'I like lions'

We have loads of them. Just like this for a variety of places, i.e. shop, park, playground etc.

Once he has mastered the 'conversation' we introduce surprises.

so 1a. becomes -

Person: 'I went to the seaside!'
DS: 'What did you do at the seaside?'
Person: 'I built something out of sand!'
DS: 'What did you build out of sand?'
Person: 'I built a mountain'
DS: 'I like building sandcastles'

It's the same format but ds has to listen to the key words in order for his responses to be appropriate.

Then we spent a lot of time listening in on young children's preferred topics and taught ds those.

Child: 'I went in Daddy's car!'
DS: 'What did you do in Daddy's car?' (okay would be better if 'where did you go)
Child: 'I went to the shops.'
DS: 'What shop did you go to?'
Child: 'I went to supermarket'
DS: 'I like the sweet shop.

Now, he does use them a bit. Often they go tits up to be fair, when it involves another child, but perhaps simply because of their age, ds can get away with it and the child is often quite happily muttering on regardless. The key point for ds, is that even if he gets it wrong and his stock answers are inappropriate, it still keeps the conversation going and the interaction, and that is practice time.

Claw3 Fri 23-Sep-11 14:45:38

Sounds like a good idea. Ive done the hello/goodbye with ds "ds x said hello/goodbye to you, say hello/goodbye. He now shouts out to other children "goodbye x", the hello isnt working as well though, he still needs prompting. I suppose its easier to say 'goodbye' as no further interaction is required.

I always ask ds "how was your day" and then ask him "do you want to hear about my day" (he doesnt and will talk over the top of me or walk away) but he is getting better, i keep my response short and he waits for a little while, even though i can tell he isnt listening) And he actually asked me "how was your day" without prompting that other, after id asked him about his, he didnt listen to my reply, but its a start!

StarlightMcKenzie Fri 23-Sep-11 14:50:04

But lingle, we all have some script talk, and we can all have some difficulties.

I had a problem in my teens, because I never quite got the hang of the girly stuff. I never realised that when you go out with friends you should immediately upon greeting them say something complimentary about their skirt/hair/lipstick whatever.

They would do it to me, but I was too self conscious and said a quick thanks and moved on. It was only much much later that I realised what I was supposed to do, and even then, I was so uncomfortable doing it that I would have to rehurse on the way to try to get it sounding natural. 'Hi Chantelle, oh wow, I love skirt, where DID you get that?' which would be a problem if she turned out to be wearing trousers.

Perhaps if you get away without having to practice and reherse for long enough, you can sometimes build your life around avoiding the need too 'i.e. never going out with shallow insecure girls wink'.

But I still think that it is better you teach your child how to do as many of these as possible, rather than protecting him from them, because then he has enough skills to choose.

lingle Fri 23-Sep-11 15:02:50

'Hi Chantelle, oh wow, I love skirt, where DID you get that?' which would be a problem if she turned out to be wearing trousers.

SNORT!

tee hee and thoroughly agree your points. We want our kids to have options!

also take the point that these scripts are powerful tools - to be neither underused nor over relied-on

moondog Fri 23-Sep-11 17:38:47

Very interesting indeed to hear the lawyer's approach.
So true.
I always tell people to trust their common sense.

Althoguh not strictly to do with these conversational turn taking skills (area we call Pragmatics) I am using Language for Thinking a lot at the moment and it is FANBTASTIC.

Easy to use (any reasonably intelligent person could administer), fun, measurable and provides a structure for purposeful conversations, based around pictures or text (according to child's ability) as well as really developing thinking skills.

A top resource with a cracking foreward by Professor James Law (big shot in world of s/lt) which will gladden the hearts of anyone unhappy with the current messy provision.

StarlightMcKenzie Fri 23-Sep-11 17:52:06

Damn it moondog. Stop recommending books.

moondog Fri 23-Sep-11 18:00:10

grin

It's all about sorting the wheat from the chaff in terms of resources and boy is there a lot of chaff.

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