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MedicMom

What about socialization?

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Is it actually important?

 

DH and I were homeschooled. We were both in plenty of activities and turned out just fine, even if we were homeschooled in the 80s and 90s when it was still weird and there were no co-ops. Neither one of us were involved in any kind of homeschool group.

 

DS5 is finishing kindergarten in the public school. He has high functioning autism and is gifted, and they basically said it's a struggle to meet his needs. We put him in because we thought he'd qualify for services and could make friends. At his IEP meeting today we found out he pretty much hangs out by himself or with the adults. They did say he becomes frustrated with the kids, as they are not as verbal or advanced as he is. At that point he tends to go find an adult to talk to.

 

After we left DH stated he really would prefer we homeschooled next year as the school isn't meeting DS5's academic or social needs. Logistically, I could teach DS5, with some help from grandmas when I have to work two days a week(both Grandmas have decades of homeschooling experience; my mom is on year 31 right now). However between my work and other life factors right now, I can't put DS5 into activities. He hates them due to the HFA, it's a struggle, and I can't add one more outside thing to my plate. I can teach him, but driving to activities and supervising him there is not going to happen. It doesn't help that he and I are both introverts who would really prefer to just hang out at home with our books.

 

I could manage a few play dates a month

Am I overthinking this? Is it really important to plug him into activities when he a) hates it and b) is only 6? He would continue at Sunday School.

 

This is my major hang up when I think about pulling him out of school next fall. DH was in school until second grade and was miserable. He loved homeschooling and doesn't think the lack of activities or socialization is a big deal at this age(or ever. We really are introverts here.) DS5 is polite and can converse well, but prefers adults to children. If it matters, he very much wants to homeschool and has written out a proposal and a list of learning objectives. :). He doesn't care at all about not seeing other kids.

 

Opinions??? This is NOT a jawm.

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I homeschool a special needs kiddo, on the spectrum along with a mild physical disability and moderate neurological condition.

 

Is your son in any therapies that he would be around other kids? Or in a social skills class for children on the spectrum? I know he is young yet, but does he have any interests that could be fueled by an adult hobby group? (I have found many model train clubs, astronomy clubs and nature clubs to welcome interested children.)

 

Would one of the grandmas be able to take your child to a weekly park day? Library book club?

 

I do think socialization is overblown, esp for children on the spectrum. A few well organized activities a month are far better than a dozen chaotic events.

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I would pull him out and not stress to much about the socialization at this point.  You might look into homeschooling groups and co-ops for the future.  An a la cart co-op would probably be the best for you because you could just do one or two classes at a time.  Play dates and Sunday school are fine for right now, just do not close the door on getting involved in things for the future.  You will be able to tell if he needs to be around other kids or do some different activities. 

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I didn't start any outside classes until oldest was 8 or 9 and then it was only a gym class because not only are we introverts here we are introverted couch potatoes and I thought it was a good idea to have DS do SOMETHING (he never even liked going outside to play).  Now I have a whole bunch of kids and the only thing we really do in gym class.  My youngers will take two weeks of swimming lessons in the summer but that's it for coordinated stuff.  I really think it will be fine.  Not everyone needs lots of interaction and honesty since he seems to do better with adults, that is where I'd be focusing my efforts anyways.  He will learn far better skills from adults than from other kids.

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He's got Sunday School every week, and I'm sure the playdates will be great.

That's enough, IMO.

 

I'd pull him in a heartbeat.

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He is not in therapies or social skills classes. He frankly just doesn't qualify for much.

He has several interests. Rocketry, astronomy and designing. He gets along very well with adults and prefers their company.

 

He does not like or do well in groups, but will participate in an activity with some prodding and supervision.

 

He will be finishing out this school year but we are rethinking our plans for the fall.

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Given society today, I don't think I'd put that much weight on the positives of "socialization".  If "What I learned in Kindergarten" posters are true, you can learn all that in a Sunday School class or a lunch out and a trip to the mall every once in a while.

 

Having homeschooled for the last...idk...15 years...socialization is small on my personal worry list.

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Honestly, I wouldn't worry too much about the socialization factor at this age. I would if he were closer to, say, 8-10 years old. But at 5-6 years old, it's not a major factor.

 

Eta: This is my reaction for a NT child. I'm not sure if it's different for a child with ASD.

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He is not in therapies or social skills classes. He frankly just doesn't qualify for much.

I'll pull him out. My NT kid qualified for social skills classes in public school just by teacher recommendation :lol:

 

Since he like astronomy, maybe grandparents can bring him to night sky parties. Here the state and federal parks have night sky parties for families and many grandparents turn up. Kids get hot cocoa and use of telescopes.

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He's got Sunday School every week, and I'm sure the playdates will be great.

That's enough, IMO.

 

I'd pull him in a heartbeat.

 

Agreed. I have an aspie and group activities were something he grew into much later than 6 years old. He's young. He'll have family to interact with, he won't be locked in a basement all day by himself. Siblings, parents, grandparents, people at the grocery store, whatever. He'll gets lots of people time. Just not peer time, and that's okay. 

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Yes, I think social outlets are important. 

 

BUT I think the amount and what they are varies widely by age and person. 

 

I have three kids who have three very different personalities and needs for social interaction outside of the family. My oldest is the biggest introvert, and at 5 he was fine with a few playdates here and there and Sunday School. My youngest is the biggest extrovert. She would love to have some kind of group activity every day and a friend over and someone willing to just chat with her the rest of the day. :) The middle one is...somewhere in the middle. 

 

I think if a kid seems happy and adjusted with the amount and type of social interaction they have, then it's enough. 

 

I have found that as my introverted oldest has grown older even he has needed more outlets for group interaction. We have found ways to get those (a co-op and Scouts primarily). So things might change for your son as he gets older, but there is plenty of time to find those opportunities if he needs them. 

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Youngest DD was 6-ish when we started homeschooling her.

 

Her "social" activities outside the house for that first winter consisted of playing with kids at McDonald's playland once a week.  They were younger kids, but she was always tiny, so no big deal.  She would play, eat, play, eat, play, eat.  Then she was done.

 

We also went to library once a week, but she never interacted with any kids there.

 

She wasn't interested in organized activities until she was about 9 and joined a book club.  We did Awanas one year and she liked the activities but disliked the kids.

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Yes. Both socialization and socializing are important. My dd16 would wither up without her friends. Less so for dd18. It's always going to be on a spectrum, but socialization is a need if you want to have functional kids, and socializing can also be a really strong need for many kids. 

 

However, neither needs to come about based on a school model. 

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Socialization is overrated.

 

It's important only insofar as learning etiquette and how to work well with others (when the time comes.) If it was important to your child, then yes, it would matter more. But for now? Don't stress about it.

 

Selective socialization, when the time comes, would be a good move. Trust yourself to know when!

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DS5 doesn't care. He prefers the company of adults and struggles to talk to children. He's actually a good conversationalist--with adults.

I think that's what I am struggling with. Will he miss out on something big by spending most of his time with adults?

Truthfully probably not. He still has two younger siblings at home and two or three kids he likes to play with. I need to just trust my instinct, I think, which is that he's fine.

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The question is the fault. Socialization is not a you have it or you don't. It is just what kind you have. It is like asking what the temperature is and then saying there is no temperature. Of course home schoolers socialize. And it is different for each child and family just as it is in public school. I have heard public schoolers say how can they be in a crowded building full of people and be so lonely. Yeah, because simply throwing someone in with a lot of people does not "socialize them" anymore than the weather "temperatures them."

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DS5 doesn't care. He prefers the company of adults and struggles to talk to children. He's actually a good conversationalist--with adults.

I think that's what I am struggling with. Will he miss out on something big by spending most of his time with adults?

Truthfully probably not. He still has two younger siblings at home and two or three kids he likes to play with. I need to just trust my instinct, I think, which is that he's fine.

 

I was like that as a kid.  My mom put me in K at the age of 4 bc she thought I needed to be around other kids.  Where I am from it meant all day, 5 days a week and there was no "schooling".  Just eating playing napping.  I hated it.  Every.single.day of it for the next 3 yrs.  I was mostly bored out of my mind and would have rather be home with my grandmother who taught me how to read, took me to many various places and told me amazing stories that I still remember today.

 

But never mind my experience - you said it yourself - he just mostly hangs out with adults.  Well.....I am a HUGE believer into multi-generational families so I would very much welcome the fact that his grandmothers will be the one talking and teaching him.   I think at that age it is so nice and so important to have that bond with older generations.

 

I say pull him out.  You can always put him back in again, but somehow I think you won't need to.  Good luck!

 

 

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DS5 doesn't care. He prefers the company of adults and struggles to talk to children. He's actually a good conversationalist--with adults.

I think that's what I am struggling with. Will he miss out on something big by spending most of his time with adults?

Truthfully probably not. He still has two younger siblings at home and two or three kids he likes to play with. I need to just trust my instinct, I think, which is that he's fine.

 

One of mine prefers adults.  He really didn't play with other kids much when younger (his choice).   I used to worry, but someone once said to me we are kids for a very short time.  We spend most of our lives as adults (unless we die young or something).  And that's true.  Why should we break our necks making sure our young kid hangs out with same age kids when that is really a pretty narrow and short lived experience.  And I wonder what exactly is the necessity of that?

 

People who say it's wildly important mostly seem to be outgoing themselves and seem to enjoy being in groups and social situations.  They can't seem to imagine that some people don't enjoy it and are content without it.

 

Now some people might need to learn how to behave socially.  That's different and in this case you might have to be very deliberate about it.  Anything from learning to wait one's turn, to not grabbing that thing you want out of someone's hands, to not always being brutally honest.  And if you think they are going to learn this well from same age peers when young, uh no.  Why is it ideal for fellow 6 year olds, who may not yet have the best social skills themselves, to be the model and teacher of social skills? 

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Yup, my aspie is much happier now, as a teen, because he has always done better with adults and now his peers are much more adult like. He'll be very happy when he's all grown up. 

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I wouldn't worry given the Sunday school and age and preferences. Not this year, anyway.

 

I know it's not the same but we live so far from all the activities that I feel like I'm breaking my neck everytime I take ds to a co-op day or event. And guess what? Most of the time he doesn't care and I never really see him forming relationships with the other kids. I think the only kids he knows by name are the ones I met the first day we joined a couple years ago. We've met up with them outside of co-op a number of times. When we first started homeschooling, they didn't have co-op classes for kids in K so we went to a couple field trips/activities and that was it. It was that year we enrolled him in a martial arts class and we busted our butt to get there in time for class and some weeks he didn't even want to go. We never made friends with anyone despite going for a year. It wasn't really a social place. Yes, I think socialization is important. I'm just saying that groups and activities don't guarantee friendships or much interaction.

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He prefers the company of adults.  Since the goal is to get him to enjoy socializing with other adults when he becomes an adult, I see no problem whatsoever in yanking him now, with the exception of that you already have a lot going on.  I doubt school is hurting him, it's just not the very best choice for him.  Is it the best choice for your family overall?

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I was a kid/teen who preferred the company of adults. At school, I talked to the teachers more than the students (and I hated school because I didn't have peers. I used big words and thought too much, so I was weird). I had friends my age, but they weren't my preference. Even so, I grew up to be an adult who has adult friends of all ages. Yes, some are even younger than me! What I'm trying to say is: school didn't socialize my preference for adult friends out of me. It just made me feel like a weirdo for preferring adult friends.

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I'll be a little bit of a dissenting voice. We have been homeschooling our older son with ASD since he was 7. He is almost 13 now. Our younger son was also diagnosed with ASD this year. Both of our sons are adult oriented, of high intelligence and are highly verbal.

 

I don't think that structured social opportunities need to come at age 6 or from a regular school, but with kids who struggle in social communication to a clinical degree, there is much to be gained from intentional help and social opportunities. One of the things that has been valuable to our older son's success as he moves towards early college or admittance into an elite STEM high school was a pretty intentional mix of therapies and structured social opportunities.

 

I can't take for granted that my kids will just work it out. I tried that and it didn't work and was causing us all a lot of hurt. Of the young adults I know with ASD that presented similarly to my sons' ASD, the best outcomes I see and hear about come from families who poured energy into consciously learning social thinking and improving social communications. Smart, adult oriented kids with serious social deficits in things like non-verbal cues and reciprocal conversations will often become teens and adults who still don't relate well to others because if those issues are not addressed, others may not be comfortable with the limited topics and tendancy to take over the conversation. Also, college sucess requires some social skills and executive functioning skills that kids like my sons generally don't intuit. I know 16-23 year olds with high functioning ASD who are very bright but struggle horribly with school or work because they are too rigid and too socially awkward to deal with instructions they don't like. Just basic stuff like learning to tolerate the frustration of a professor you don't like, understanding there are required courses in non-preferred areas or how to sit in class and keep track of homework assignments.

 

My older son has taken group classes PT since he was 8.5. At 9, he made a best friend. His academic opportunities are greatly expanded by the social leaps he's made over the last 4+ years.

 

Things got a lot better for him, and me and all of us, when I stopped expecting that it would all just be ok and when I stopped taking it for granted that he "should" know stuff that seems obvious to others.

 

I completely understand the inclination to pull him out and just chill at home. I reaaaaally get that. And we did just that, while setting up therapies and such for 1.5 years. Those 1.5 years were great. The social stuff we did (either therapeutic or classes or independent friendship) have been a mix of challenging and beneficial. It's been hard at times when it would not have been as hard to just let him cocoon himself in a totally comfortable bubble. I have no doubt though that he would not be where he is right now without all that work he did and without all of the time we poured into it. He didn't use to be able to see when other people were happy or sad. He didn't use to be able to engage in a conversation with someone about anything he didn't want to talk about. He didn't use to be able to respect the personal space of others appropriately. He didn't use to be able to offer someone help. He didn't use to be able to make a purchase at a store. Yet every week, he's impressing me with his insight and wisdom. He's always been smart (exceptionally so) and a good problem solver but because of the help he's recieved and the opportunities he has had to practice those skills, he's able to communicate his ideas more effectively, work with groups, offer advice and homework help to his cousins and other peers and just generally be more relaxed and more connected to the world around him. He's learning to ride the bus. He follows the news. He can check out library books and ask the librarian for help. He can sign up for a university enrichment class in philosophy or robotics and not only do I NOT get a call that he needs to be picked up, I hear high praise for him for his thoughts, ideas and writing.

 

I would not let these years pass without paying much attention or mind to his social development. Also, we had to press hard for insurance coverage and stare down the school district about the services they still have to provide even though they are homeschooled but it's been well worth it. Truthfully, as someone who is probably diagnosable with ASD myself, I think I probably would have benefited from the intentional help they are getting. Yes, adults do learn adaptive skills but when you have those skills earlier, you can do more with them.

 

Over the years we have used speech therapy, occupational therapy, a general therapist who focuses on social development and various autism social groups, camps and many books. For social opportunities, we have used a few group classes, little league, cub scouts, nature groups, casual gatherings like park day and more.

 

The last thing I will say is that often adult oriented children eschew same age peers because they haven't found their tribe. For my older son, that's been meeting kids who are also very bright and have similar interests like D&D and spelling. One advantage of homeschooling for him is that it made it easier for him to find kids he could relate too rather than overwhelming him in large groups of kids he had nothing in common with. And the skills he picked up there have transferred nicely to being able to work with and talk with other kids he has less in common with. Yes, life would be possible without the friends he has made but he is demonstrably better off for having those friends.

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Even NT kids need a nudge sometimes. I'm all for in-family socializing till quite late, but I know I did the right thing by gently pushing ds out of the warm family nest by the time he was around 7/8. He resisted at first, but it's been a good thing for him. 

 

Being adult oriented is quite usual in my family - I was, my eldest daughter is - I think it's fine, but it can be quite lonely until you find your tribe, and that can be later rather than sooner. Even very bright adult oriented children have something to gain from some level of socializing with other children.

 

It's a fine balance - not pushing so that a child is really being forced to do something that goes counter to who they are, but providing gentle challenge that helps expand their comfort zone.

 

I think it's worth paying attention to from at least 8 years on.

 

 

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I need to just trust my instinct, I think, which is that he's fine.

This this this! And add his dad's instincts in too.

 

My DD, nt, wasn't really into friends until about 7-8. She was just shy and I refused to push her. Now she has some good friends, makes more wherever we go and is well liked by everyone.

 

I really wouldn't worry at 6. Family, Sunday school and play dates are truly enough.

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I'll be a little bit of a dissenting voice. We have been homeschooling our older son with ASD since he was 7. He is almost 13 now. Our younger son was also diagnosed with ASD this year. Both of our sons are adult oriented, of high intelligence and are highly verbal.

 

I don't think that structured social opportunities need to come at age 6 or from a regular school, but with kids who struggle in social communication to a clinical degree, there is much to be gained from intentional help and social opportunities. 

...

I can't take for granted that my kids will just work it out. I tried that and it didn't work and was causing us all a lot of hurt. Of the young adults I know with ASD that presented similarly to my sons' ASD, the best outcomes I see and hear about come from families who poured energy into consciously learning social thinking and improving social communications.

Amen!!  

 

It's not reasonable to take the experiences of socially typical kids in a homeschool setting and say oh they picked 'em up later, don't worry about it, no biggee.  People do the reverse, blaming kids' social issues on homeschooling, which isn't technically accurate either.  We got that, with a psych saying my ds (diagnosed ASD as part of his mix) had social problems due to homeschooling.  Most kids who are homeschooled interact with a variety of ages and acquire appropriate social skills just fine.  Some kids need explicit instruction no matter where they are.  Social skills are your #1 determiner of employability later.  To say oh they don't matter now is like saying math or reading or speech doesn't matter now.  Really??  

 

It's going to take a LONG TIME to resolve these deficits, lots of intentional work.  Does he have an IEP?  Why not?  It sounds like it needs to be updated with more goals, more interventions.  He's going to need interventions no matter where he is.  When you homeschool it's easier to miss the interventions that need to be done.  Sure things get missed in school, but your dc's issues aren't getting missed.  They're getting NOTICED and they could do an IEP, put in goals, put in place interventions and behavioral plans, and they could work on it.  I think homeschooling is dramatically better at some things, yes.  But to say oh just being home is better is NOT the case.  You'd need to PAIR it with lots of intentional work, like what Lucy is describing.  

 

I'm getting ready to go to a SocialThinking.com workshop on how social skills impact reading and academics.  He could be having issues there you don't realize yet.  Have they run a pragmatics test?  Have they run the CELF or CASL?  You can be extremely verbal AND have language deficits at the same time.  My ds was listening to TC lectures as a K5er.  He had 25th percentile single sentence comprehension, but his comprehension went up at the paragraph level.  Made him hyperlexic as a budding reader but fine with college lectures.  Go figure.  So without testing you may not realize areas it's impacting or *about* to impact with reading comprehension in the next few years.

 

I think that's a severe disability to say he can't hang or have age-appropriate conversations with his peers.  I'm sorry, but to me that's not acceptable.  I've spent all year prompting my ds to make sure he could go to a class at the Y (swim, gymnastics, etc.) and TALK with kids.  And it's literally like hey they talked to you, you could reply...  He asked your name, say my name is...  And I've kept him in classes with younger kids, who are more outgoing and more willing to be patient.  They love trying to talk with him, and he does better now overall.  Hanging with 4/5 yos was the ticket for improving my ds' conversation.  Seriously.  Because they had better conversation skills than my ds!  

 

And thing is, they actually can TEACH this.  The SLP at your school can work on conversation skills, etc.  Or if you don't want them, buy materials from SocialThinking.com and do it yourself, kwim?  But to me that's just foreign to say oh I'll wait.  We've had enough ladies on the board do that to know how it turns out.  It's a MISTAKE.  

 

I have chosen to keep my ds home so far, so obviously I think it *can* be ok at home.  However my ds has an IEP, one we are updating and improving right now in fact, and I'm making sure we do ALL the same interventions he would have gotten in school.  And I make sure we do them BETTER.  And I go to sessions.  

 

I think one thing you could consider is either having the ps provide services or start with a private provider who could send someone to your home a few hours a week.  You may find that when he loses the structure of school that you need some assistance.  Maybe not, but it could happen.  Even so, a behaviorist and the lower priced tutors they use can come to your house to provide services and work on these skills.  They can do playdates with other kids (NT or SN) and let them work on the skills they're targeting in a guided setting.  It wouldn't require you to be there, and since it's ABA your insurance should pay for it.  If your insurance will pay for it, DO it.  That's what we're finally starting.  HIGHLY recommend.  It wouldn't require you to be there, so it can happen while the grandma or whoever is there.

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Fwiw, I put my ds in a variety of classes, so he interacts with a variety of ages.  I've kept him in preschool classes for 2 years now, because that's where he fits in emotionally and for conversation.  It has been GREAT for that.  I put him in classes with age-mates so he gets appropriate peer models.  And I put him in classes with older kids so he learns pecking order and learns not to be so annoying.  There are behaviors that younger kids and agemates will tolerate that an older kid will get bugged by.  Honestly, I have him in classes 6 days a week.  It's a lot, but we're also making a lot of PROGRESS with that, kwim?  I'm very intentional, talking with the teachers, making sure they focus on behavior and confront things, teaching him afterward and pre-instructing, prompting, etc.  

 

I don't know if you have goals like this, but I want my ds, who is also gifted, to be able to go to a summer camp, invention camp, that kind of thing, with his intellectual peers.  That's my GOAL and what I keep thinking.  I judge everything by: does he have the skills to be with his intellectual peers?  If he doesn't, then I'm not done yet. 

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I don't know if you have goals like this, but I want my ds, who is also gifted, to be able to go to a summer camp, invention camp, that kind of thing, with his intellectual peers. That's my GOAL and what I keep thinking. I judge everything by: does he have the skills to be with his intellectual peers? If he doesn't, then I'm not done yet.

This is a very good way to explain it. Not only does it take work to get most children with ASD to that point, the work and practice to get there allows the child to take a lot more from the opportunity than if they are unable to focus, think through social scenarios as they arrive, interact in socially acceptable ways or be able to see the group plan.

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I think socialization is important.  Things that are inherently natural, generally, to NT kids are not to NT kids.  I don't think that that means that you should keep your kid in public school, but I do think that some attention should be paid to making sure that your child can interact appropriately in society.

 

 

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The reason he only talks with adults is because they'll do what he wants and cover for his social skills deficits.  He's at an age where kids will no longer do that.  It sounds really intellectual, like oh he's so bright he only likes to talk with adults, but what it's really showing is how severe and isolating his deficits are.

 

Our behaviorist says once we start playdates we'll understand, because REAL play, where he actually has to do something maybe he didn't pick, take turns, consider the other person's feelings, etc., will be HARD WORK!  It's hard work to learn those skills, and the easy route is to say oh I just don't like to talk to my peers or play with my peers.  

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The reason he only talks with adults is because they'll do what he wants and cover for his social skills deficits. He's at an age where kids will no longer do that. It sounds really intellectual, like oh he's so bright he only likes to talk with adults, but what it's really showing is how severe and isolating his deficits are.

 

Our behaviorist says once we start playdates we'll understand, because REAL play, where he actually has to do something maybe he didn't pick, take turns, consider the other person's feelings, etc., will be HARD WORK! It's hard work to learn those skills, and the easy route is to say oh I just don't like to talk to my peers or play with my peers.

For a lot of kids on the spectrum that's a big part of adult orientation for sure. Adults are more forgiving of social oddities and quirks in kids (and that tolerance is not there to the same degree for teens and adults with HFA). Another consideration is that for kids (especially very intelligent kids) interested in a particular topic at a level way beyond their years, it's just easier to find adults who are interested in and can converse in that topic than it is to find kids.

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Fwiw, I put my ds in a variety of classes, so he interacts with a variety of ages.  I've kept him in preschool classes for 2 years now, because that's where he fits in emotionally and for conversation.  It has been GREAT for that.  I put him in classes with age-mates so he gets appropriate peer models.  And I put him in classes with older kids so he learns pecking order and learns not to be so annoying.  There are behaviors that younger kids and agemates will tolerate that an older kid will get bugged by.  Honestly, I have him in classes 6 days a week.  It's a lot, but we're also making a lot of PROGRESS with that, kwim?  I'm very intentional, talking with the teachers, making sure they focus on behavior and confront things, teaching him afterward and pre-instructing, prompting, etc.  

 

I don't know if you have goals like this, but I want my ds, who is also gifted, to be able to go to a summer camp, invention camp, that kind of thing, with his intellectual peers.  That's my GOAL and what I keep thinking.  I judge everything by: does he have the skills to be with his intellectual peers?  If he doesn't, then I'm not done yet. 

 

I think this is the crux of my dilemma. We don't live somewhere where there are appropriate classes for him.  Even if I had time, there simply aren't things here for him to do.  The nearest co-op is 45 minutes away, for instance.  There is a karate place in time, but he has absolutely no interest.  I have him on a waiting list for a lego club, but he's been on the waiting list for a year and it's still an hour drive. There are no park days or super active homeschool groups.  Even if I could plug him into the co-op 45 minutes away, I don't think it would be a good fit.  The classes are large and not well controlled.

 

We are not going to receive any more services from the school. He does have an IEP, which we just reviewed this week.  They will not be offering any services other than a special classroom setting.  He does not receive therapies as he tests too high to qualify.  He is in a 12:1+1 class, which is the extent of the school services. There are six children in the class and all are somewhere on the autism spectrum. I asked his teacher this week how exactly he does in class socially, and she said he is generally polite and can carry on a conversation fine with the other children, just chooses not too. He takes turns, shares, and stands in line with no problems.  He does not have interaction with neurotypical children at school.  He does quite well with one-on-one playdates with NT peers at home or a park.  They converse, tell stories, and interact. He would prefer to not have playdates and has had enough after an hour, but he will interact and have fun if he has to have a playdate.  He does NOT do well in any kind of a group setting.

 

  He was up for re-evaluation at the school, and tested too high to qualify for occupational therapy or speech therapy.  We had private evaluations done as well to try to qualify for insurance coverage for private therapies, and he didn't score low enough then either.  Both sets of evaluators have said that he doesn't need it at this time.  So he is not in any form of therapy anymore, either at school or privately.

 

I just don't want to pull him out and have him fall behind socially.  He's doing pretty well now, but I want to make sure that Sunday school and weekly playdates would be enough.  I'm simply not able to do anything beyond that now.  And we won't be getting any help from the school district, whether he's in school or not.

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I have had to appeal and escalate with the district with each of my sons, especially my younger son. I have prevailed with every issue I have pushed.

 

If they are willing to place him in a contained classroom, they are acknowledging that he needs services in some form. He's legally entitled to a free and appropriate education (FAPE) in the least restrictive setting appropriate to his abilities and level of need. Stand alone services are LESS restrictive than a contained classroom. A child can be ahead academically and still qualify for services for social, emotional and executive function needs. It's fishy to me that they would offer as drastic a step as a fully developed contained classroom with no NT students and it is also clear from your past posts that they are excluding SpEd students from many school functions which is also legally dicey.

 

The school doesn't get to write the whole IEP and tell you to take it or leave it. They often try to do that, but you don't have to accept it. You and your husband are both members of the IEP team and can request changes before you sign it.

 

If he truly doesn't score low enough in *any* area, I would be asking whoever diagnosed him for a very detailed break down of his diagnosis.

 

Here the diagnosis of ASD requires insurance to cover certain services recommended by the psychologist without additional tests. I would contact the autism support or advocacy org in your state to confirm that you got the correct information about your insurance and to see if legal changes are underfoot in your state. There are in many states. A lot more is covered here now than five years ago. It could be that in the next year or two changes happen that might positively benefit you and you need to be in the loop if that happens.

 

Finally, there are some helpful books you can read with exercises and habits you can set up at home. Not an ideal substitute for therapy, but useful and most certainly better than nothing. I will come back and post a list if you would like. Some are specific to homeschooling kids on the spectrum.

 

This is not an easy row to hoe, I know. And it's not like you haven't had more than your fair share of stressors lately. I'm sorry that you have so much on your plate.

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For a lot of kids on the spectrum that's a big part of adult orientation for sure. Adults are more forgiving of social oddities and quirks in kids (and that tolerance is not there to the same degree for teens and adults with HFA). Another consideration is that for kids (especially very intelligent kids) interested in a particular topic at a level way beyond their years, it's just easier to find adults who are interested in and can converse in that topic than it is to find kids.

And you can work with that by using techniques in Just Him The Whale...  It also speaks to the importance of having social skills to be in with your intellectual peers.  My ds is a whiz at design/engineering.  He doesn't have the social skills to do that with other kids like him, so he explains it to teens/adults who will patiently listen to his monologues.  If I could get his social skills up, group/collaboration skills up, etc., he could go into things with his peers that are intellectually appropriate like invention camp, lego teams, etc.  

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Lucy is giving you good advice here.  That's absurd to say he doesn't talk to kids and qualifies to be in a spec. ed room but doesn't qualify for ANY interventions.  It's a pain in the butt to advocate through the school.  I've had to do it for my ds to qualify him for our state's disability scholarship.  It takes a lot of time and I don't underestimate how frustrating it is.  Lucy's advice on contacting a support org (one with a lawyer) is correct.  That is outrageous to say they took a 2E dc who qualifies for nothing, plopped him in a spec ed room, and don't give a rip whether he's with his intellectual peers or getting services.

 

Will your insurance pay for ABA?  Not speech and OT, but ABA.  ABA would hit everything you need.  If you can get your insurance to pay for ABA, you can get all this done at home.

 

I agree the co-ops and classes you list don't make sense for him.  If he's not talking, not using an aide, not receiving instruction to GROW through those experiences, merely being there makes little difference.  It only makes a difference when you have someone there who is prompting him and fading the prompts, teaching him the skills.  Ditto for playdates.  You want a playdate where he learns skills, not a playdate where he happened to be in a room with some kids while ignoring them.  

 

Social skills are THE determiner of employability later.  I think that if you could add some actual social skills instruction (via a behaviorist, via social thinking materials) during the week, you would have enough.  You don't have to have tons of outside activities.  What you need is some really targeted instruction so he can practice at the opportunities he has and make better use of the opportunities.  

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Ok, I'll say this a different way.  Yes, I put my ds in lots of classes, but the fact that he's in classes is NOT what's getting the improvement.  It's that I've done the work of prompting, fading prompts, giving instruction, fading supports.  I'm using those classes as a foil to teach skills.  If I had just sent him with his grandma every week and let him be silent, ignoring kids, not responding, it would have accomplished NOTHING.  Instead I've gone early, stayed late, prompted, discussed, taught.  We're getting ready to ramp up our social instruction, now that we have a behaviorist.  There's all kinds of great stuff like Thinking About You, Thinking About Me.  

 

Here's a getting started page for people wanting to use SocialThinking.com materials https://www.socialthinking.com/LandingPages/Getting%20Started

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I'd echo LS and OhElizabeth, here.

 

 

Honestly, I wouldn't worry too much about the socialization factor at this age. I would if he were closer to, say, 8-10 years old. But at 5-6 years old, it's not a major factor.

Eta: This is my reaction for a NT child. I'm not sure if it's different for a child with ASD.

 

I think it *is* different for a child with ASD.  

 

In the short run, "socialization" as it currently looks like from his current situation may look more like a hindrance than a help... and it might well seem like it'd be easier / happier just to bring him home...

 

... but as parents, you and your husband need to think through the long game.  As both LS and OhE pointed out upthread, he prefers adult company now not just because they're more at "his level" intellectually, but also because with adults he's less called on to read cues, take turns, not interrupt, follow the other person's lead in conversation or activities, etc...

 

... but by the teenage / adult / employment years, he'll need those skills; and ASD impedes his ability to pick them up without explicit instruction and more practice than an NT kid needs.

 

 

The school district does not get to encourage him out just because his needs are hard for them to meet.  The school district does not get to write up an IEP which doesn't include explicit instruction in social skills, and present it to you "take it or leave it."  That's not how it works.

 

Unless you have the resources (financial, and availability of private services within reasonable driving distance, and logistical capability of getting him there), I'd be careful about surrendering all claim to district services.  He's only 6.  You don't yet know what he's likely to need going forward.

 

 

 

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I think this is the crux of my dilemma. We don't live somewhere where there are appropriate classes for him.  Even if I had time, there simply aren't things here for him to do.  The nearest co-op is 45 minutes away, for instance.  There is a karate place in time, but he has absolutely no interest.  I have him on a waiting list for a lego club, but he's been on the waiting list for a year and it's still an hour drive. There are no park days or super active homeschool groups.  Even if I could plug him into the co-op 45 minutes away, I don't think it would be a good fit.  The classes are large and not well controlled.

 

We are not going to receive any more services from the school. He does have an IEP, which we just reviewed this week.  They will not be offering any services other than a special classroom setting.  He does not receive therapies as he tests too high to qualify.  He is in a 12:1+1 class, which is the extent of the school services. There are six children in the class and all are somewhere on the autism spectrum. I asked his teacher this week how exactly he does in class socially, and she said he is generally polite and can carry on a conversation fine with the other children, just chooses not too. He takes turns, shares, and stands in line with no problems.  He does not have interaction with neurotypical children at school.  He does quite well with one-on-one playdates with NT peers at home or a park.  They converse, tell stories, and interact. He would prefer to not have playdates and has had enough after an hour, but he will interact and have fun if he has to have a playdate.  He does NOT do well in any kind of a group setting.

 

  He was up for re-evaluation at the school, and tested too high to qualify for occupational therapy or speech therapy.  We had private evaluations done as well to try to qualify for insurance coverage for private therapies, and he didn't score low enough then either.  Both sets of evaluators have said that he doesn't need it at this time.  So he is not in any form of therapy anymore, either at school or privately.

 

I just don't want to pull him out and have him fall behind socially.  He's doing pretty well now, but I want to make sure that Sunday school and weekly playdates would be enough.  I'm simply not able to do anything beyond that now.  And we won't be getting any help from the school district, whether he's in school or not.

Perhaps he can qualify for social skills therapy via your insurance. Ours did. Also, is there a YMCA near you or a JCC or similar place? Our YMCA offered art classes, gym classes, swim classes, and so on year round for young kids. Boy scouts also have lots of activities. Our library also offered lots of activities for kids which were fun and educational.

 

I would definitely continue to have play dates and group activities on a regular basis even if you need to do a bit of coaxing IMHO. I would also work intensively on social skills. Modelmekids.com has excellent, very specific DVDs for all age groups on conversational skills and other social skills that you can use as well.

 

http://www.modelmekids.com/autism-video-samples.html

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The thing is, what helps with those social skills is prompting and teaching by an adult. Not just sticking him in a class. I think you'd get further with a play date one on one, where you are near by and can take note of what issues arise and address those issues than you would from his current class situation or putting him in a co-op or art class or whatever. 

 

Also, if he does well at a playdate, but not in a group situation, how much is social skills and how much is sensory issues? Too much noise/movement/etc in a group versus one on one. 

 

 

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I do not have diagnosed 2E kids.  But in a school environment, my kids could have labels.  My son went to preschool and regular school for 2 years and I had several teachers suggesting ADHD behavoirs.  Both my kids have sensory quirks.  My daughter has struggled with anxiety at times.  My kids are 15 and 11 now.  Both have test scores in the HG+ range.  Full testing here would be thousands of dollars and I can't justify it.  I suspect my oldest especially would have had some interesting ranges.

 

I've had to made some very intentional decisions about moving forward homeschooling in terms of social activities and teaching life skills for my kids to be successful.  My oldest has made me nervous for years, but this year at 15, he is having a much better year in terms of focus and social skills.  He has a core group of amazing friends.  It has been very worthwhile to find true age peers - quirky, GT kids in their age range.  I live in a large, urban metro and that has actually not been super difficult here.  I have absolutely forced my kids to try things they did not want to do at times.

 

I teach kids 10+ at a secular co-op that is heavily quirky - dxed and un-dxed 2E, GT, LD's etc..  There are teens that come in that have been sorely undeserved in some life skills and struggle mightily at age 13+ just taking a very open ended, forgiving, single class with a quirky group of peers.  I think in NT kids, all will be well most of the time if you are an attentive parent and you are stepping your child toward Independence and adult hood.  I do agree with the posts that having a child with quirks often requires much more work and attention to detail.  I think with some kids, you actually "school" the social part, life skills, intentionally work on focus, etc. and can probably mostly unschool the academics with a very bright child. 

 

Why is he in a separate classroom?  Is it due to class room behavior?  I do agree if he is in a self contained class room with kids that aren't necessarily GT and he's not getting any ASD specific services, that doesn't sound like a super awesome fit to me so I don't disagree at all a change might be in order.  But I also think homeschooling kids like this and especially young kids, is a very BIG job.  The past couple years, I've moved much more to a chauffeur and facilitator role. 

 

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He is in the self contained classroom for classroom behaviors. He is set off by sensory triggers and it is the only class in the school where sensory stimuli is specifically kept low. The reason for not getting services is that any "issues" he has disappear when the sensory stimuli is controlled. The school has done testing and we've had private testing done, and he simply isn't deficit enough.

 

He got the ASD label because he stims when overwhelmed, struggles with transitioning between activities, and has very narrow interests. Socially, he's pretty good when it's one on one or a very small group of peers. He shares, takes turns and will enter into imaginitive play with another child. He picks up on some social cues, especially as far as how other people are feeling. His teachers say he does not seek out the other children, but will play with them if asked. His teacher actually feels he doesn shave any significant social deficits as long as the sensory stimuli is controlled. He will seek out the adults.

 

I just know myself and that even at 34, I struggle to pick up on social cues and I don't prefer to interact with anyone outside of immediate family. Getting him involved in things would be difficult for both of us, but I also feel school may be aggravating some sensory issues.

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He is in the self contained classroom for classroom behaviors. He is set off by sensory triggers and it is the only class in the school where sensory stimuli is specifically kept low. The reason for not getting services is that any "issues" he has disappear when the sensory stimuli is controlled. The school has done testing and we've had private testing done, and he simply isn't deficit enough.

 

He got the ASD label because he stims when overwhelmed, struggles with transitioning between activities, and has very narrow interests. Socially, he's pretty good when it's one on one or a very small group of peers. He shares, takes turns and will enter into imaginitive play with another child. He picks up on some social cues, especially as far as how other people are feeling. His teachers say he does not seek out the other children, but will play with them if asked. His teacher actually feels he doesn shave any significant social deficits as long as the sensory stimuli is controlled. He will seek out the adults.

 

I just know myself and that even at 34, I struggle to pick up on social cues and I don't prefer to interact with anyone outside of immediate family. Getting him involved in things would be difficult for both of us, but I also feel school may be aggravating some sensory issues.

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I'll not comment on the school situation, because it seems your post was more geared more to social information. But I do think it's important for kids to have social interaction, and I think that is *especially* true when the child has discomfort or awkwardness in that area. But I don't think the social interaction has to be formal; it could be something as simple as playing at the park. But I do think regular social interaction is important. My own DS was one of those toddlers who didn't like social events and was terribly uncomfortable around others, but I did push him to those things because I didn't want him hamstrung by poor peer group interaction when he got older and I felt he needed to learn those skills as a youngster. It is difficult for a child to not have adequate social skills when dealing with their peers. DS is still an observer, mainly. But at least he knows how to approach peers and what do in social situations with his peers. I think it's a skill that needs to be introduced and practiced early.

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He is in the self contained classroom for classroom behaviors. He is set off by sensory triggers and it is the only class in the school where sensory stimuli is specifically kept low. The reason for not getting services is that any "issues" he has disappear when the sensory stimuli is controlled. The school has done testing and we've had private testing done, and he simply isn't deficit enough.

 

He got the ASD label because he stims when overwhelmed, struggles with transitioning between activities, and has very narrow interests. Socially, he's pretty good when it's one on one or a very small group of peers. He shares, takes turns and will enter into imaginitive play with another child. He picks up on some social cues, especially as far as how other people are feeling. His teachers say he does not seek out the other children, but will play with them if asked. His teacher actually feels he doesn shave any significant social deficits as long as the sensory stimuli is controlled. He will seek out the adults.

 

 

Sensory stimuli will not be controllable if he moves forwards at his academic level. College and workplaces have limited ability to provide the same accommodations he's been getting at school or mimic that homeschool environment he will be getting. That he needs a restricted classroom environment means he absolutely should be eligible for services to work towards not needing a restrictive environment geared to those with sensory processing issues.

 

It's not fair, right or acceptable that it is this hard to get kids on the spectrum help but the reality is that all too often parents pretty much have to be willing to raise hell (in a strong advocate way) to get the district to meet their federally mandated obligations.

 

I recommend checking out Wright's Law online. It is clear your district is not in compliance.

 

Clearly I am not against homeschooling young kids on the spectrum who are also gifted. That is what we have done and are doing. For a lot of such kids homeschooling is not only a viable option but the ideal option for their situation (time to address social and sensory issues but plenty of time to dive into interests and academic subjects at their own level). But it really can't be done without ongoing work to address the challenges he faces. And if he is 2E and his dx of ASD is accurate, everything I have seen, read, heard and experienced makes me reasonably certain that unaddressed, what are small problems at 5-7 in a sensory controlled environment, too often become larger problems at 9+.

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Was he tested specifically for pragmatic language issues? The speech therapist has specific tests for this.

 

I'm asking because my son struggles with pragmatics. He scored extremely low on the testing. During his IEP meetings, whenever I brought up his social skills, his classroom teachers would say, "Oh, he does well socially. He has friends. We aren't seeing problems there." But then they would say that he wouldn't participate much in classroom discussions and was unable to do well in group work -- he would either just sit quietly or would get up and walk away. I kept pushing on the social idea with the IEP team, and they did do the pragmatics testing at our request. Lo and behold, his pragmatic skills were at the very bottom of their scale. He is getting help from a speech therapist at school now. DS11 has nonverbal learning disorder.

 

The reason I bring it up is that you say your son does better one on one than in groups. When people lack nonverbal language skills, or pragmatics, it becomes harder and harder to interact with people when the group is larger. They may be able to focus on one person at a time to read the nonverbal cues, but when there are multiple people in the group, the nonverbal signals get more muddled, harder to catch, and harder to understand.

 

If they haven't run a specific test for pragmatics, you can look at his WISC scores yourself to see if there is large gap between your son's verbal (VCI) and perceptual reasoning (PRI) scores. If the verbal is quite a bit higher than the perceptual (20 points or more), it can point out a deficit in nonverbal reasoning.

 

Also, I don't know if you ever visit over on the Learning Challenges board, but you can learn a lot on that forum about interpreting test scores, advocating for your child at school, working through the IEP process, and interventions you can do at home or by outsourcing.

 

I think your school sounds...well, I can't think of any polite way to put it. I can understand why you are considering homeschooling, but I also know that homeschooling will bring you some new challenges. It's good that you are thinking through the socialization questions, because I agree that they are important.

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