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Does anyone have experience of the 'Circle of Friends' approach?

(10 Posts)
sc13 Tue 02-Oct-12 17:53:24

I have been reading about it from the NAS website and a couple of USA sites, and thought it might work for DS (6, year 2 in mainstream, dx of ASD). Last year DS seemed to be doing OK, had playdates, got invited to birthday parties, etc. I am worried however that the other kids will increasingly become less tolerant of DS's little ways, and also that the gap between his social skills and their social skills will widen so much that they won't be able/willing to play together anymore.
What I have read about 'Circle of Friends' sounded promising - has anyone here actually implemented it? Did you get help from consultants/specialists outside your DC's school and, if so, could you tell me who/where?
Thanks in advance!

JoMaman Tue 02-Oct-12 19:52:14

watching with interest as I'm also interested in doing this for ds1 (nearly 5, but stayed back a year at nursery)

crappypatty Tue 02-Oct-12 21:37:58

ds is 8 and in Y4, school had a go at this.

It was run by someone from Behavior Intervention Team (prior to dx) It had limited success because ds would play/join in during the session but wouldn't carry it on outside during break/lunch.

He now has someone from Autism outreach coming in school, I think she is planning on doing it again, but I am only due to meet this week having only spoken to her briefly.

IMO it hasn't translated onto the playground because his sensory needs are not being met therefore he needs that time to wind down. He likes to walk around alone, if anyone approaches him, child or adult he will just run off.

It did make other children approach him and invite him to play on the playground though so could be helpful.

Sorry thats all I know about it.

Annawiththebag Wed 03-Oct-12 03:28:27

Try contacting the school's Educational Psychologist regarding this.

auntevil Wed 03-Oct-12 09:52:17

We decided against this for DS2 as he would not have necessarily had anything in common with the children 'chosen' - and would therefore have found it difficult to have any lasting friendship. If they didn't want to play with him before - forcing it wouldn't have worked either.
School tried instead a social skills group. I say group, but apparently it was quite often only 2 of them!
Strangely, it was at the beginning of Y2 for him as well. He has found, now in Y3, that some of his problems have been resolved by other children having matured slightly. He couldn't work out why other children just didn't get him. Now they get him a bit more.

tryingtokeepintune Wed 03-Oct-12 12:01:49

Agree with auntevil.

It all depends on the children picked and how they are encouraged to interact with your ds. Will there be older children who can take turns playing with your child at playtime or supporting your child? Will someone be supervising your child to model the appropriate behaviours at least at the beginning?

The SENCO/CT at my ds's previous school picked a group of children who had no interest in my ds at all. Half of the group of children had different needs and could have done with additional help themselves but as my ds was the only one with a TA (secured by his statement) it was easier to lump all the children who needed help together, thus almost ensuring no one was helped.

sc13 Wed 03-Oct-12 23:32:16

Thank you for the answers; it's interesting that they provide a contrast to the mostly positive things I've read so far.

BackforGood Wed 03-Oct-12 23:55:53

I have to agree with young children it's difficult to maintain. You get a lot of enthusiasm from the children there to support in the first place, but then, if they don't get anything back from the friendly approaches, they themselves are not yet mature enough to realise that's 'OK' and to keep on asking. At this age, they need some positive feedback for themselves, they don't have the understanding that a socially aware, maturer older teen might have, where they know they are there to support the person with ASD.
Obviously this all depends on the severity of the needs of the child with ASD.
Circle of friends can work well with some socially isolated children, but not always those with social and interaction issues, which of course a child with ASD must have to get a diagnosis. There are of course exceptions.

amberlight Thu 04-Oct-12 16:24:11

Two big challenges with 'circle of friends' for those of us on the autism spectrum. Firstly, coping with the social interaction 'overload' of a whole group at once. Secondly, lots of different people giving different advice to us.
Mostly we walk away and find just one good trusted person.
If it's going to work, it has to be really trustworthy sensible people who are going to be long-term partners to us, and who all confer to find an answer to a problem or a suggestion for a game, not seven different suggestions.

DameEnidsOrange Thu 04-Oct-12 16:39:09

DS did this in Y3. He enjoyed the sessions as they involved missing maths, they made friendship bracelets, but it wasn't a road to long term friendships.

Neither positive or negative for him.

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