Social groups can be found through school or in the community usually ran by Speech Therapists or Occupational Therapists. We have tried several. One is ran by his school guidence counselor and has definitly helped him forge relationships in school, another was with a local school occupational therapist who used her home office to teach social skills one night a week. He attended two of her 8-week classes. We have also attended summer camp classes. As he has matured and been more in the classroom the skills he has learnt in the group have really helped.
Here is an overview of what to expect your child to learn from a social skills group in NJ. This one is geared toward children on the spectrum although you can find groups that target children with anxiety disorders or ADD/ADHD.
Our son’s social groups taught him things like taking turns, joining in games appropriately, asking another child to play a game with him, using good manners while playing a game with other kids and how to leave a game or another child to go and do something else. All important if you want to interact and participate with ‘typical’ children. For a long time he had no desire to interact with other kids so his social skill development was certainly off track. The groups helped him catch up in a non-threatening, non stressful environment. These groups have all been self-pay, except the school guidance counselors class. We have typically paid around $350 for a 10 week, 1 hour class or $225 for the weekly summer skills group.
I will certainly have him attend the next social group at school as I think this is more than beneficial to him to learn in a real-time environment.
I have posted this article from PBS parents as I thought it was an interesting article into just where our children should be fitting in at school, or not as the case may be 😀
PBS parents: Our experts have analyzed the social groups that form at school to help us understand how each child functions as a social person in the school environment. “Everyone who has ever gone to school is aware that there is a social status hierarchy in school. It is very painful to think that our own children are being ranked in some way by the group, but it happens. However, these groupings should not be used as measurements for comparing or changing kids to make them more popular,” advises Michael Thompson, Ph.D.
The following groupings are based on research organized by Michael Thompson Ph.D. and Lawrence Cohen, Ph.D, and originally reported in “Children’s Peer Relations: A Meta-Analytic Review of Popular, Rejected, Neglected, Controversial and Average Sociometric Status.”
Very Popular Kids
Popular kids are generally “alpha males” and “queen bees” who may be more athletic, talkative, attractive or simply controlling than other members of a group. These kids generally have social skills that draw others to them to have fun, and are considered leaders of a group. As kids get older, sexual activity can also become a factor in a kid’s popularity or coolness factor.
The majority of kids fall into this group. They are not “leaders,” but they are considered popular. Accepted kids are generally smart and outgoing and not likely to be overly aggressive or disruptive in school.
Average or Ambiguous Kids
These kids are not ranked by their peers as very popular or unpopular but certainly have friends.
A small number of kids are truly neglected by their peers. These kids tend to be quiet, good students, but not active socially at all. Teachers often don’t worry about them, because they do well in school. While it takes a long time for these kids to make friends, research shows that they generally do have friends by middle school, but they need attention from parents and teachers.
Both liked and disliked, these kids are often the class clowns; likable kids with embarrassing habits (like excessive nose-picking), bullies who instill both fear and loyalty, and rebels who stand up to teachers and talk back.
At the highest social risk are “rejected kids.” There are two types: rejected-submissive kids who become sad and withdrawn to avoid attracting attention and rejected-aggressive kids who can become emotionally explosive if teased excessively. “These kids are not necessarily violent kids, but they are the kids who frequently lose control in school, act up excessively, and wind up in the principal’s office,” says Michael Thompson, Ph.D.