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Behavior: Social Skills, Self Esteem

Sanity check on my son's social skills and status...


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Joined: Nov 03, 2005
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Posted Nov 23, 2002 at 2:09:23 PM
Subject: Sanity check on my son's social skills and status...

DS is in 3rd grade, and has a reading disability. He also has had intervention in the area of social skills in the past. There is some stuff in his pragmatics, personality, and eye contact that you would definitely call social skills deficits. I'm just trying to get some objective opinions on if we need to pay closer attention to this area...

He has 4 real friends - kids who care as much about him as he does them. Kids who ask for playdates with him and seek him out. When he's with them he's pretty relaxed, and socially appropriate. He's not great at reading social cues, but its not terrible either, and he can usually negotiate with them what to play etc. Granted these are also 4 creative quirky boys, and much of the play is fantasy games.

If presented with a the opportunity to chat with other kids his age while on vacation or something like that he will usually avoid it. He's happy playing on the beach with his sister or by himself and won't approach strange children. If they talk to him he appears shy, but not overly strange.


Even at school he may forget to greet other kids he knows, and his eye contact can be very poor. He's not bullied or victimized, I suspect mostly he's ignored by the kids in his class because he doesn't make himself available and isn't that interesting to them .. If we are at the park and he pushes himself to join in with other kids he knows they always let him play, and then he does pretty well. I think he's more comfortable playing tag than having a conversation.

I'm looking for some perspective on this.. I've lost any sense of what "regular" boys his age do together socially .... Thanks!

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Anonymous
Joined Oct 24, 2014
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Posted:Nov 23, 2002 10:35:02 PM

Mamm:

That is what kids in 3rd grade do. They can't hold concentration for very long to have a long conversation. It is play play play . Don't worry.

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Anonymous
Joined Oct 24, 2014
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Posted:Nov 24, 2002 12:34:48 AM

If he's happy, don't sweat it. Even if he's not "regular" but it sounds like he is close enough.

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Anonymous
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Posted:Nov 25, 2002 9:52:26 PM

My grandson is the other way around. He is in kindergarden and the teacher doesn't like it because David doesn't join in playing games with the other kids. He would rather sit and watch, or he doesn't jump and hollor its his turn. The teacher is worried about this, But on the other hand she says he loves to sit and talk to her and other chiildren. Isn't this the time when children are suspose to be interacting on their own level. We can't form them into what we think is right for them.I beleve we make our children grow up to fast these days.

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Anonymous
Joined Oct 24, 2014
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Posted:Nov 25, 2002 11:08:21 PM

Karen,

I just wanted to tell you that my daughter was a lot like your son at his age. She is not LD. But she never did pay much attention to social cues. When she was in nursery school, her teacher told me she would never be one of the popular ones because she didn't care enough about what other kids were doing. We have prompted her, tutored her, role played with her, and she is happy and well adjusted with one best friend at school and several other friends. And in third grade, at before school open house, I saw her totally ignore several people who said hi to her and only greet her best friend. She was not willing to put forth much effort on "social nicities".

My LD son does not have that many friends. He plays mainly with the boy next door. I don't see the kind of blatant mistakes I saw with my daughter. On the other hand, he doesn't seem to ask kids home or ever get invited, while my daughter has always had a small set of friends, which is why I think your son is more similar to my daughter. Neither of my older kids start conversations with kids they don't know, although they are open to other kids joining them.

My gut reaction is that your son is OK--a lot like my daughter--not socially gifted but OK. And actually, with time and a dog, she has become amazingly better. The dog has been key--she now holds conversations with all the people in the neighborhood who have dogs!!! And she was just in a play at school!

And yes, I too have worried about my son---he is in cub scouts this year partly to give him broader social exposure.

Beth

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Anonymous
Joined Oct 24, 2014
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Posted:Nov 26, 2002 9:46:56 AM

BTW,

I didn't mean to imply that you shouldn't keep a close watch on your son's social skills. My daughter ran into trouble when we moved to Florida when she was in fourth grade. Different environment and she was the victim of teasing. It was a difficult school situation for her and we moved her the following year to a parochial school, where she has been much happier. BUT, we also role played a lot before hand and asked the teacher to keep an eye on her.

I think the difficulty with kids with social skill weaknesses is that they get comfortable with a few kids but don't necessarily develop the skills to make new friends. I have seen my daughter get much better when joining a new situation like soccer but it has been a combination of maturity and our keeping on top of things (I am a great nag).

My sister, when I was going on about my LD son's mediocore social skills told me that if all the therapy we've done improve his athletic abilities (which has happened), he'll be fine. Her comment was that most men have lousy social skills anyway!!! I do think there is a difference--the girls with NVLD, for example, seem to have a harder time because girls depend much more on conversation than boys. Boys are much more likely to play--in that way, your son is pretty typical.

Beth

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Anonymous
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Posted:Nov 26, 2002 6:05:17 PM

I have 4th grade and 6th grade boys who are quite different socially, but I've noticed that more than girls, boys seem to depend on "something" to do in order to interact; Nintendo, Gameboys, Yu-Gi-Oh and Magic card games as well as sports are very important to boys this age. Teach him chess, checkers, or card games that let him interact with boys his age. Public school can be tough for kids who are a bit quirky...there's tremendous pressure to be like everyone else unless you are a very self-confident boy. My 4th grader loves cooking and is so self-confident that no one teased him when he made pumpkin bread and chocolate truffles for the 3rd grade hobby show...his was the most popular booth.

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Anonymous
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Posted:Nov 26, 2002 7:09:42 PM

Its easy to lose sight of what most other kids do and I was concerned that my son's relationships seem to center on YuGiOH at the moment. Whereas my daughter who is only 6, not LD, and definitely an alpha-girl actually talks to her friends about things . They can sit in her bed and chit chat . I have to remember that not everything I see my son do is about his LD... Thanks

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Anonymous
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Posted:Nov 29, 2002 10:37:36 PM

We're all unique. Boys his age can do any number of things and it sounds like the things he does are largely working for him. He's moving along nicely at a pace he seems comfortable with and he knows his comfort zones. As time goes on, he may push himself and the edges a bit more. In the meantime, he has four good friends and seems happy with himself and his life.

He's way ahead of the game.

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Posted:Nov 30, 2002 10:17:54 AM

Thanks for your words of encouragement. I keep asking myself " Is he happy" and he is. But I also want to make sure I'm not neglecting to work on social skills while we persue other issues. As his peers continue to mature and develop I have to ensure his skills keep pace well enough to avoid trouble down the road.

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Posted:Dec 06, 2002 12:47:23 AM

I think all children could benifit from some structured social skills training. Mom knows best. If your gut is telling you that this is an area of weakness for him then it wouldn't hurt for you to facilitate opportunities for strengthening his social skills.

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Posted:Dec 20, 2002 9:34:56 PM

Karen, I worried constantly about my son when he was your son's age. He also had about 4 friends who invited him over for playdates. He had one very close friend. Other than that, he didn't have much interest in other kids. He too avoided kids he didn't know and he preferred to be alone rather than play with them. He stuck to his few friends and despised change of any kind.

He avoided people's eyes, and looked past them rather than at their faces. I worried like crazy. He definitely was a quirky kid -poor reader, but extremely strong math student, awkward physically, wouldn't play team sports.

But you know what? He's 23 now, at an Ivy League university, has a steady girlfriend and a small but loyal circle of friends. During high school he was never without a girlfriend; obviously they didn't find him too quirky. He has a wry sense of humor and, despite having been what I'd describe as a rigid child, is very forgiving of other people's foibles. People describe him as easygoing. He's kind and considerate. He looks people in the eye.

I could never have predicted any of this.

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Anonymous
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Posted:Dec 21, 2002 9:00:40 AM

That's great ! Congrads ! This is the success story we all are hoping for. Unfortunately for some, the happy ending eludes.

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Posted:Dec 21, 2002 9:43:04 AM

Joan, Thanks so much for sharing that. My concerns about my ds's social life have increased recently as we contemplate sending him to a new school next year. He just told me last night that he'd like to have more friends too. But the friends he has really love him, and if we play our cards right over the next few years I think he'll be OK. The girls seem to like him - my husband and I joke that he'll have good luck with the girls if he ever looks at them and notices that they like him!

Did you son have learning issues? Was there anything you did to support him socially that you would recommend? Thanks for your support.

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Anonymous
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Posted:Dec 21, 2002 3:25:23 PM

The main thing we did was send him to a Montessori school. We knew practically from his birth that life was going to be tough for him. He was a colicky difficult baby and he was scared of everything as a young child. I remember one summer when he was 3 - we had to keep all the windows shut because he was terrified of the sound of the crickets!

He stayed in Montessori for all of elementary school and he went to a private high school. He's gifted in all things mathematical and most sciences. He didn't read 3 letter words till he was 8; he could barely read by 5th grade. I started working with him somewhere around then. At the time I didn't have the training but I was worried about his inability to read or write. He complained constantly of tired, sore neck and hands. His spelling was atrocious and I well remember him sitting at the kitchen table sobbing in 6th grade (new school) because he had to write a 100 word paper. He couldn't do it.

I realize now that he has a phonemic awareness weakness. He's a very slow reader but he remembers everything he's read and never has to study. He didn't like to read till he was around 16 years old; that's about when he caught up with his classmates. His high school is famous for their writing program. My son's writing skills improved radically about that time and he's now actually a good writer as long as there's no creative writing involved.

As far as friends, as a child he was very difficult and expected the world of his friends. Luckily he had a friend who was similar and they were very loyal to each other throughout grammar school. As a high schooler, he found a wonderful group of friends, male and female. At that time, he became widely respected for both his ability and for his passion for all things technical and scientific. He's the kind of person who delves into a topic and doesn't come up for air till he's internalized everything about it.

I'm grateful we made the decision for Montessori schooling. I really think that those teachers and the setup of the class allowed him to be admired for his strengths. Although he never went through any formal testing, from what I now know, I believe he fits somewhere on the autistic spectrum. I wish he had sensory integration work as a child because he moved his body very awkwardly and had so many fears. He has OCD tendencies to this day but they don't interfer with his life; as he puts it, half the kids at his school seem to have these traits. They're all pretty intense kids.

I've often thought that it all could've turned out differently. By sending him to Montessori, we took the pressure off grades. That was really good. We also took the pressure off his having to fit anyone's image of the average kid. We made the decision to send him to a private high school when we realized that he'd probably rebel badly if he went to a public school. So, although we've had to live pretty poorly to finance it all, I think it was well worth it.

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Posted:Dec 21, 2002 4:40:58 PM

Our children sound very similar. In some ways you were probably both better off for what you didn't know, and didn't expect. One of the things that has saved us until now is that my son's school is a progressive school that doesn't give grades until 7th grade. (He's in 3rd now) Interesting that you chose and were successful with montessori - I would have thougth the lack of structure would be confusing for a child like your son, but it sounds like the freedom allowed him to learn in his own way.

I often tell my son that someday his strengths will be the things that matter at school and in life(like yours a wonderful memory and interest in science, technology and abstract concepts). But right now all he sees is that the other kids can read Harry Potter.

Good for you for helping him find his way.

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Posted:Dec 26, 2002 10:50:32 AM

Wouldn't you know it, just as I was feeling that we had him in a comfortable place socially, he is now telling me that he needs more friends at school. There is a gang of boys that hang out together, and although my son has his own freinds, he'd like to be a part of that group. From what I can tell they are n't excluding him specifically, they just don't go out of their way to include him. He 's been bringing his YuGi Oh cards to school, which is a great way to get included in their playing during free time. I've also talked with him about the importance of greeting people because this is an area of weakness for him.

He said to me a few nights ago " you know mom, I'm different than the other kids" and I asked him if he meant about his reading difficulties. He said "no, you know that I'm different in other ways too...". And he's right.

here's my question - are you aware of any books or videos that talk about kids who feel different, or might help him think of ways to improve his social skills. He's very able to apply strategies but I think it would be better if it didn't come from me. Thanks!

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Posted:Dec 28, 2002 10:17:05 PM

Yes there are certainly some great books out there for kids with special needs and they typically address that feeling of being different. Books are typically geared to a particular diagnosis. Does he have aspergers? There seem to be quite a few books for aspergers kids that have been published recently- even fiction (main character has aspergers and solves mysteries). These books typically address the social issues and what kids can do about them. I know less about LD books- but have seen them in major bookstores...

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Anonymous
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Posted:Dec 29, 2002 6:10:33 PM

He doesn't have aspergers, or a diagnosis of NLD, but if you took him on a bad day from a few years ago and cranked up the severity level of his issues you could think he did. His affect and his use of language can be a little off, particuarly with new people. When he's comfy he can be quite charming. I think our intervention, and his other strengths have helped him compensate tremendously. But I know I can' t take my eye off this issue, and I need to shore up his self esteem and social skills before he changes schools, which will certainly challenge him socially.

If you think of any titles let me know! ( or videos, stories about other kids etc.. thanx!)

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