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Friendship Training?

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We did something similar, attending a social skills/friendship group for around a year and a half. Dd was eight or so when we started.


I have a couple of comments. Groups can vary HUGELY in how effective they are, depending on the training and personality of the leader. Dd was in a group that began well, but spiraled down over a few months when a girl with high-functioning autism was added -- she was a screamer and a runner. When the head psychologist came in one day and ran the program everything was wonderful. When the trainees/assistants were in charge, not so much. They didn't have as good a grip on controlling or dealing with the behaviors.


Another thing I noticed was that the group was absolutely a lifesaver for kids in public school. These were the girls who at ages nine through twelve were being excluded, made fun of, bullied, because their differences were becoming much more obvious at that age, when girls start conforming much more and becoming much more worried about appearances, and friendship becomes differently social rather than based on shared play.


Dd, who was homeschooled, had never been the object of such exclusion, so the group was not as useful for her. Also, her particular brand of social difficulty was inhibition rather than aggression. That's definitely not the main type of social behavior exhibited by most Aspies. So the group was structured around things like listening, taking turns, etc. which dd had done practically since birth; she needed assertiveness training instead!


I'd say the group was a neutral experience for dd. But she is definitely not typical, and many of the other girls found it such a huge relief, such a wonderful place to be, where they could be themselves and be taught friendship skills within a small, sheltered group.

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My HFA ds LOVES his social skills class. It's the absolute highlight of his week because he gets to see his friends (and he did make friends there) and fit in with the group for once. He's also learned skills that I've seen him use in other settings which have made fitting in easier.

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