Sunday, November 13, 2011

Social Communication

One of my autistic students was doing so well in school he didn’t seem to need my assistance any longer. His reading skills were outstanding, he could answer questions about what he read with amazing accuracy and he was at the top of his class in math. His communication skills were stronger than most of my students (even though his voice quality was a bit robotic.) The other second-graders seemed to like him (who wouldn’t, he didn’t bother anybody!) I was in a quandary when it came to writing goals for him; he met all of his previous ones. He seemed ready to be dismissed from speech. But first I decided to watch him in a few social situations and so I observed him on the playground. A group of second-graders were crowded around the swing sets. My student stood a few feet back, staring at the swing he obviously wanted to use - obvious to me that is. Other children rushed right by him and formed a line leaving him off to one side. He didn’t know how to read the social “rules” of the swing-set group. Since he didn’t like standing close to others, he stepped back, away from the forming line. He stood so far back that he never made it into the line let alone to the front of it. He needed help navigating the social norms. It could also be said; the others needed help in reading his unique way of communicating.

There are times we all could use a little help communicating our needs and wants, and help in reading the subtle communication of those around us, so that no one is left off to the side.

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