It's All Okay

Just a mom blogging about life with an autistic child.

Location: Canada

I'm a stay at home mom with two boys. Patrick is my youngest and has ASD.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Circle of Friends

I've read about this concept before but never explored it fully. It has come up on my on-going discussions with the school. Has anyone seen it working in a school setting? Anyone with children who are either the 'focus' student or one of the 'supporting' students?

One of Patrick's main issues is social communication. He has a lot of trouble communicating his wants/needs and understanding the wants/needs of his classmates. He has started coming home and saying that his friends don't want to play with him. Well, of course they don't. He's big and strong and rough and while he isn't violent he certainly is not the kid you would choose to play a game with.

I guess my main point is...I don't expect everyone to like him. I don't even expect everyone to say yes when he asks to play (although this is the school rule, you don't exclude anyone). But they do need to address the fact that he needs to be taught how to socialize. It won't work just to throw him on the yard and expect it to work. There needs to be some direct facilitation.

The teacher is going to do some role playing with him and his classmates tomorrow as she says he's not the only one who needs to work on this. I'm pleased with that but I'm wondering if we do need to put together a formal 'circle of friends'. I'm also wondering if, in the beginning at least, we might be better off with a circle of slightly older friends as opposed to his peers. The children in his class this year are, for the most part, well, let's just say they're probably permissively parented...and leave it at that.

I'm not a good linker, but here's a link if you aren't sure what I'm talking about.


Blogger farmwifetwo said...

The little one does, they started it near the beginning of Gr 1 last year. Actually for his b-day a week ago 3 children gave him hand written b-day wishes.

The "student of the day" is his mentor for the day - yes, he still has pretty much fulltime EA support but the Teacher and children are working to make her role secondary, not primary in the classroom. Now this year he is more independant but they still help him with tasks. Like making certain he gets into line, goes and gets his outdoor clothes on etc.

He also has his turn at all activities in the classroom - like student of the day.

The Gr 5's take turns being his recess/lunchtime buddy. He now has an EA as well during these times since we've doubled the number in the school. The EA's and the Gr 5's help him interact with the other children in the playground.

His classmates were given a book (I bought it from B&N online) last year about "being a friend of a child with autism" and it has helped the class understand his quirks. They don't mind that he parallel plays with him, they constantly say hello to him when we are out and not one cares that he doesn't reply back without prompting.

It can be done. Little boy actually attempted to make friends on the playground by my parents over Thxgiving. Needed a little "Mom" help... but he initiated.


Tue Dec 09, 01:16:00 PM 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check it out here. Possibly this is where you heard of Circle of Friends?

Emily wrote up documents about it to share. She is working on this with her son's school.

Wed Dec 10, 06:52:00 AM 2008  
Anonymous Maddy said...

Mine both attend a social skills class for just that kind of thing and the therapist is very accommodating, e.g. currently learning how to accept a vile gift graciously!

I think older children [empathetic ones] are a good choice, girls [sadly] are usually a better choice still.

Role playing, hideous though it is, is a great start. This is the perfect opportunity for parents to demonstrate what not to do i.e. mimic their kids = howls of laughter and mortifying embarrassment for parents.

Of course generalization is another thing altogether, can do it at home role playing, can do it with the therapist but anywhere's a long path my find friend. I'll stop now as I detect ramble!

Fri Dec 12, 05:31:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Casdok said...

I have heard of the circle of friends but never come across anyone who has tried it.

Sounds like the teacher is on the ball though.

Sat Dec 13, 07:17:00 AM 2008  

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