Friday, March 24, 2006

Really happy with Wesley Social Skills class

I have to toot the horn of our local Wesley Wonder Kids Club class.

Will has moved recently from the elementary age group to the middle school group. I was hoping that they would begin working more in depth with learning how to listen, how to enter a conversation appropriately, how to show interest in another person's conversation, etc. I was also wishing that they would use tv shows as a way to grab attention and show the kids how these concepts are used in real life. Well, they've done it! Last week's lesson was on active listening, and they used clips from "Home Improvement" to illustrate their point. I'm so happy that they do this sort of thing, because it really has had an effect on Will's ability to listen attentively to a conversation.

I wish that they could begin doing this sort of thing in a school setting, for kids with Aspergers AND with any kid that seems to be having a rough time socially, because there are a lot of people beyond Asperger's kids who need to learn these concepts. Sure, it's helpful for the kids to learn the correct way to listen, but it's so invaluable to having that feeling of social success. It really doesn't matter that they have social success with EVERYONE, but with people that THEY like and who THEY are interested in, being able to listen to another person's point of view is a wonderful way to help a friendship grow.


Monday, March 13, 2006

Sense of humor can be taught

I've written in the past about how important it is socially for our kids to dress stylishly. I also think it's just as important for their social well-being to develop a killer sense of humor. We were lucky enough to have our older son (who may have had the slightest bit of Asperger's, but probably would not be diagnosed as such) who, while he wasn't athletic at all, and wasn't too outgoing, was saved by the fact that he had an awesome sense of humor. He may have been quiet and shy in middle school and most of high school, but he had that ability to make people laugh that came in mighty handy when nothing else was working for him.

This son spent a lot of time watching stand-up comedy routines on TV with us. This was back in the 90's, when comedy on TV was a little cleaner than it is on the Comedy Channel now. This is kind of like the OLD days, when as kids guys would listen to and mimic old Bill Cosby records, or when we would watch Monty Python routines and repeat them over and over in high school. Our son had the two Asperger's traits that can be really useful for comedy -- brains and a great memory -- and so he could use the stuff he learned on TV at school, and after a good amount of time, make up his own routines. He also was a terrific mimic, and could recreate any accent that he heard with pretty good accuracy -- another good thing for a comic.

I've often wanted to try to record old Bill Cosby shows, and edit them for specifically good content, and then give them to Will's social skills class for teaching social cues and humor. I've also wanted to try and find old Friday Night Standup routines, edit them for bad language and and other inappropriate content, but use them to teach humor. If there's anyone out there who's already done this sort of thing with success, I'd love to hear from you. And if I ever get around to actually doing this, I'll let you know.


Friday, March 10, 2006


It occurred to me the other day, as Will and I were waiting at the bus stop, that he no longer flinches when he hears the squeal of the bus' brakes. They were awfully loud that day, even I felt like covering my ears, and Will didn't seem bothered at all. When he was 6, he used to cover his ears every time the bus stopped.

It makes me wonder . . .

What is better for our kids -- us adapting to THEIR idiosyncracies, or exposing them more often to the very things that bother them? For instance, if a child doesn't like his routine changed at all, is it better to adhere to that concept of keeping that routine, or does it help the child in the long run if you are constantly shaking up that routine, so the child gets used to NO routine?

With the example of the bus -- I haven't done anything specific, but obviously, over time, Will has adapted to the noise of the bus on his own. If we never had him wait for the bus, always drove him to school to avoid the bus noise, he never would have adapted to the noise. It makes me wonder if there are other situations where it would be good to help him adapt to the very things that bother him -- noise from the kids on the bus, noise in school, distractions while he's doing his homework, etc. Obviously, I'm not going to force him to do something he really can't stand, but those things that start out as minor annoyances, maybe exposing him to those very things will help him adjust.


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

When you see an undiagnosed child of a friend. . .

There's a running joke in our family -- after doing much research on Asperger's/High Functioning Autism, I often would look around me and say "so and so seems a bit Aspy to me", etc., etc. My children tell me that I think everyone has Asperger's syndrome. And they are probably right. I see some aspects of Asperger's in myself (I really have a hard time recognizing the faces of acquaintances when I see them in a different environment than the original one in which I met them), and many aspects in my father and my husband's father (both engineers, and my father has some rigid social characteristics -- he used to read the newspaper while people were visiting us at our house, or while we were out for dinner, rather than socialize, etc.). But there have been a few times when I've wondered about various people that I've known extremely well, wondered if this could be a part of their makeup, and wondered if it would be a good thing for them if they knew that Asperger's could be a possibility.

I have a very close friend that I've known for years. She has been like a second mom to my children, and she is a really loving woman who I care for a lot. I've watched her children grow up and now all except one are in college. She has a daughter who, since she has left home and gone off to college, seems to be having a harder time than most. She is a really nice girl, and very, very bright in areas that she chooses to study. She is an accomplished pianist and composer, she reads constantly, watches movies so much that she can quote specific scenes by memory, and basically has a knowledge of pretty much everything. She is very affectionate, often too affectionate -- she often invades one's personal space. She likes to perform, and does so whether people want to be her audiece or not. She does not seem to be able to watch other's responses to her actions and then adjust her actions accordingly. She has always been this way, and has always had difficulty getting along with her peers. She is a very nice, sweet girl who I love a lot, and her mother has mentioned that she has problems with depression.

This girl is in her twenties now, and I am aware that her mother may not appreciate me hinting at the fact that I think her daughter has Asperger's -- in doing so, I would probably jeopardize the friendship. But for the daughter, all I can think of is that it might be quite a relief to have this information, and she may then have an opportunity to read up on the subject, or attend a support group and find other Asperger's syndrome peers who she could relate to, and who could relate to her. I watch my son at his social skills group, and these guys all get along so well and enjoy each other's company so much -- it's as if they are in a group, finally, who just "get it." I would love for my friend's daughter to have that opportunity as well.

But how would I ever mention this to her? I have no idea.

Hit Counters