Monday, May 3, 2010

Social IQ: Your Child and the Future

This blog originally appeared in December 2009. I have reposted it in conjunction with this morning's discussion @thecoffeeklatch about manners, etiquette and social convention.

Well collegeman’s grades came in last week. He like usual did exceptionally well. No not Dean’s List. The panic attack did affect his grade and his behavior in art also affected his grade. Together the tiny point difference kept him off the List. He didn’t care. In fact he hasn’t even looked at his grades. We told him he did really well so I guess he doesn’t need to see the exact grades.

The reality is that the Holocaust professor was very nice. I mentioned in an earlier post that collegeman had had a panic attack and after writing for hours and hours the proctor had to pull the plug on the test. I had agreed. Proctor was right, it turned out fine.

The interesting grade occurred in art. Collegeman received an A for his work, but a C for classroom behavior. He did not participate in critique properly despite the rules laid out for him and apparently was disruptive and rude at times, maybe quite often from her email to him. I had asked him to ask her for the written review she wrote for his file she has yet to send it, but did go into detail in the email about what happened with his grade.

Now one of the reasons she gave for giving him a lower grade is that he didn’t stay focused in the class. Yes, “that is illegal” bells have gone off in everyone’s head. But with his other behavioral issues he seems to have had I am not going to make a mention of it, except here. Just make sure that if there seems to be a problem for your child with a teacher not understanding their disability it gets taken care of immediately. At some point, even in college, you can’t control how others react to your child, or how unaware the professors are of how a disability may affect the student. The point of this post is to discuss how to get your child to understand that proper behavior and being socially appropriate really counts for their future.

Actually, I think that this was a very inexpensive lesson for collegeman to learn. He got a B+ instead of an A or A-. We constantly try to emphasize to him that he has to watch how he interacts with people. That is why we have the life/skills coach for him and have put him in the asperger’s support program in school. He needs to understand that no matter how brilliant you are, that no matter how talented you are, how you interact with people will have alot to do with how well you do in life rather than just your brain power. It is important because we as a society, are very social animals and our children have to play along.

I am hoping he is listening here. I spoke with the coach and told her what the email said. Of course, I am a little disappointed, as I don’t know what I was paying the aide for. As bad as his behavior apparently was I am not sure why she really didn’t emphasize how bad it was, maybe she thought she had and I was just not listening. I knew he had problems and I knew the professor had no ability to deal with him, but it really affected his grade. Maybe she didn’t think that the professor would actually hurt his grade that way. Not really important now. The aide, while otherwise quite capable, has left and we are going to find some new person. Going to emphasize the behavior part to the new person. So we will see.

But in the meantime, there was also another lesson learned. Not everyone is going to get the aspie nature of who your child is. They need to know that they need to work on the boss’s level not necessarily on their own. It is a hard lesson for anyone to learn never mind your aspie, but it is something that needs to be emphasized. Not quite sure how to teach that one yet. Once I figure it out I will let everyone know. For right now, we are going to emphasize getting along with the professors, showing the proper respect and doing the assignments the way the professor wants and not to question everything that you are given to do. OK, it is college and you are supposed to question, but apparently some professors take offense.

So how do you teach them? Actually the only recommendation I have now is to constantly explain the social world around them. Teach them how to react in an appropriate manner and to not talk back to a professor or teacher. It is a hard lesson for them, but better now than later in an adult life. Social skills classes are essential as early as possible. Have social behavior written into their Individualized Education Plan (IEP) with a behavioral intervention plan (BIP) on how to accomplish the appropriate behavior (without punishment). By the way, I am not talking about no punishment if your child hits, or steals, or lies to a teacher. I am talking about how to teach your child to interact in groups, play on the playground, interact in the lunch room and function in gym. Also, teachers should be aware that your child can be taught to speak appropriately without punishment. It just needs to be modeled for them that is all, and that it is part of their job. Make sure that you even work with them on social skills programs at home as well. (I am sure you are doing this already) See many of the websites listed on this blog for recommendations for at home social skills programs.

Meanwhile, collegeman has calmed down and is enjoying his vacation. He is doing the teenage thing, sleeping late and staying up until wee hours. We told him that this is an inexpensive lesson that he learned but that he is going to work on social skills as hard as he is going to work on his academics. It’s time. On a positive note, his social coach took him to a local diner that he frequents with her. He was outgoing and appropriate to the point that the owners even recognized that he was making progress and commented on how well he was doing. So that should make him feel good. But for now we go practice the rest of the behaviors again, and again, and again, and again, and again….

Until next time,