My 12 year old son has realized that he is different than the other kids at his public school, but does not want any of the other kids to know that he needs special help. He is socially lacking in some areas and would really benefit from social skills training but refuses to go to the special ed rooms or have anything to do with the special ed teachers/staff because he does not want to be associated in any way… read more
I teach 4th grade and have found this to be very common in fourth grade and on up. They want to be like their peers and don't want to draw attention to themselves. One way I've found to be very useful is is to pull both special ed and general ed students into my social skills groups. This works in two fold; 1st there are many general education students that lack social skills and 2nd I need good role models in my social skills groups. So what I do is poll the whole class/classes for interests. Then I make my groups based on similar interests(my target student likes Pokemon so I pull students that reported collecting Pokemon). Now it looks like I'm having a play/interest group. We form the group around their shared interest but I sneak social skills into the group. Many of the students in the group have excellent social skills and you focus in on those and try to prompt the students who are lacking those skills to follow suite. The way these groups are run is that we meet 2-3 times a week for 30 minutes, usually their lunch period and gradually introduce the necessary skills. It starts with me running the group and I gradually give up control to the students so they can practice and learn the skills. I've learned a lot of my tricks from Dr. Ross Greene and the CPS (Collaborative Problem Solving) model. He has 2 wonderful books The Explosive Child and Lost at School.
This is about the same age that my son began protesting the extra help he was receiving in school. He definitely identified more with his NT peers than the other ASD students. One difference is that my son was not doing very well academically.
I was able to use the academic piece as the reason he needed the support and extra services. Now 2 years later my son is in high school with no para, no aide and he is passing all classes. A couple of bumps here and there but overall great progress.
Are there any outside providers you could use to provide the social skills training? That way your son would receive the help but it would not be apparent at school. Perhaps his psychologist could recommend a social skills group.
Another way to provide social skills help is with a trusted mature slightly older family friend or cousin. Just someone your son could occasionally hang out with who would be able to answer questions your son might have.
I know how helpful it is to have the school provide services for our kids but sometimes other avenues can work also.
My son is 13 and we have the exact same issue. I had the school write up an IEP so that he had no choice but to go to the support class. He didn't want to but i'm the parent and this was too important to give in to him. Turns out, he really enjoys the class and the teacher and also realized that some of his friends were in that class so he ended up feeling less "different" than he did before. I also have found art classes and other activites that promote social skills at a local center that specializes in kids with special needs. He doesn't even realize that it's art therapy...he just loves working on the murals and stuff with the other kids.
My 12 yo has good communication skills that in many ways mask his social anxiety. He is so used to being the odd one out with kids, that he now says he doesn't want friends. "If they won't like me, they will fear me." :( It is so sad. Counselors and teachers don't necessarily see that because he is so well spoken. Also my son is a train wreck academically... he just won't go to school, won't do his work, but everybody says, "he's so bright, what's wrong!" :(
One thing that has helped is, we have a Behaviorist coming over twice a week, and they sit and play games, like Scrabble or Uno, simple games. The interaction, turn taking, all that is social skills, and the Behaviorist guides my son... without my son realizing he is getting "therapy." Sometimes they just talk, but always with the Behaviorist pushing in the right direction. I think it is really helping.
I guess in some ways we're lucky because my son takes being HFA as a badge of honor almost, that being different means better. Good luck, I feel for ya!!!
I would write the music class into his IEP as a "must be able to attend' because it is so beneficial to him. Then if his IEP also has social skills in it, the school must find a way to provide it at another time slot, even if it means contracting it out! I know, easier said than done, huh. You're doing great just trying to get him everything he needs! :)