Life On The B Side

Taking all that life throws at us one moment at a time

On Social Skills November 6, 2018

Jay : Who swapped my good gel pen for THIS? *holds up a regular ball point pen in disgust*

 

Ace : First of all, I’m not answering any questions without my lawyer present.

 

Me : *Takes bow for my excellent parenting skills in teaching Ace his rights*

 

 

We were launched into a full-fledged court proceeding with Jay serving as prosecutor, jury and judge. He would not stop until he had solved the mystery of the missing pen – and truly, the entire thing was quite entertaining.

I was deemed innocent due to having no motive since I had given him the now missing pen in the first place. Next, Ace was deemed innocent due to his willingness to let Jay borrow his gel pen. That meant, through the process of elimination, Shaunie was found guilty of pen theft. She vehemently denied the charges, but without an alibi, her goose was cooked.

~*~

One of the 3 main characteristics of autism is impaired social skills; and we have certainly had many moments where his impairment was severe and noticeable. Too though – and more often than not these days – there are moments when Jay’s social skills amaze me.  Moments like that “courtroom hearing” where he seemed to perfectly understand all the typical features of pretending and sarcasm and teasing and hyperbole.

 

There are still instances though where he hits a bump in the road – so to speak.

Jay came home from school upset and confused about a situation that had taken place earlier in the day. For some unknown reason he had told a classmate that she has buck teeth. Of course, it hurt her feelings and she complained to the teacher who made Jay apologize. The problem is that he didn’t understand what he had done wrong.

I wasn’t making fun of her. I didn’t laugh at her. I just told her that she has buck teeth. She does have buck teeth.”

It was quite a task trying to explain to him that while he may not have meant to hurt her feelings, he had so it was his job to fix it. His intention was not the point.  I told him that in general it isn’t a good idea to talk about someones looks unless you are saying something nice. I tried to explain that his observation probably made her feel self-conscious and therefore, feel badly.

He wasn’t getting it.

Or maybe he was pretending not to get it. Sometimes it’s hard to tell with him because I know him and I know he’d rather pretend that he doesn’t know something than to own up to doing something wrong.  Not that he’d outright lie, but, usually I can see it on his face the moment the connection is made. The confused look gives way to a smirk (which he tries to hide by lowering his head). This one was tough.  I’m still not sure where his head is at with this.

 

One thing I do know is that when it comes to getting what he wants, he knows how to play the game and his social skills are impeccable. He lost a tooth recently and “the tooth fairy” forgot to put the money under the pillow. Jay knows about the tooth fairy *wink wink*, but he still likes to keep up the charade. You know, money and all that. When he asked why the tooth fairy hadn’t come by with money, I told him that I’d simply forgotten and that I’d just hand him the cash. His response? He started giggling and said, “OK. I’ll take it. But can the tooth fairy still come tooI want to be rich.”

 

 

 

4 Square Wars May 24, 2018

The name of the game lately has been conflict resolution – And truth be told, that’s tricky for me.

  1. I’m not great at forgiving people or working through conflicts. I don’t say that to brag.  I recognize it as one of my (many) weaknesses.
  2. I didn’t have these issues when I was in 4th grade so I don’t have any parenting examples to pull from.

 

Jay has been coming home from school complaining about the kids in his before and after care program.  To hear him tell it, they call him names and are mean to him; basically, he’s being bullied.  I know my kid though.  I know sometimes his communication is a little off (due to his autism) and I also know that sometimes he’s the instigator who then only tells one side of a story (due to his winning personality).  I needed more information before I went barreling into the school to demand action.

 

Flash back to a couple evenings ago

Jay hops into the car and immediately complains to me about “the mean kids”.  When we get home, he doesn’t stop.  He sits on my bed and continues.  He no longer wants to attend that program he tells me.  He’s over it – and them.

I ask him a bunch of questions so that I can get a full, and accurate picture.  Is he being singled out?  Is the staff aware and what have they done about it?  Has anyone hit him or otherwise physically assaulted him?  Does he say mean things to them or is he unreasonably difficult/bossy first?  Is the main perpetrator encouraging other students to be mean to him also?  How old are the kids he’s having problems with?  Do they understand what is expected of them?

The answers only leave me more unsure.  He says what he’s supposed to say to make his point and to validate himself as the victim, but …

There are little smiles and smirks (that he tries to hide) when I ask about him being mean or difficult.  He shifts his body and holds his head down, sneaking glances at me when I ask if he’s really being bullied, or if he just doesn’t like not getting his way all the time.  To the question about the age of the “problem kids” he tells me that one of them is in 1st grade; that makes him 5 yrs old compared to Jays 10 years.  (That doesn’t excuse him in Jays mind)

 

We spent most of the time talking about one child in particular.  This is someone who was (is) his friend.  Being my son, Jay is ready to end this friendship due to their misunderstandings at after care.  Apparently this friend, accused Jay of something.  Jay then proved he had not done that thing.  The friend apologized but Jay was having a REALLY HARD TIME forgiving the friend for accusing him in the first place.

We had a lengthy talk, and (fighting my personal inclination) I told him that people deserve 2nd chances and we talked about accepting genuine apologies and about how being a good friend works 2 ways.  Being forgiven and being forgiving.  We talked about how mistakes do happen and there are misunderstandings that happen between people all the time; whether they are friends or brothers or wives or coworkers.  I reminded him of times when he needed to be forgiven by his brother and reinforced that if we never acknowledged our own errors or our role in mix-ups then we would go through life being very lonely because we will push everyone away.  We talked about being understanding but not so much that we are being taken advantage of or opening ourselves up to be abused.  I told him that this is something he will have to deal with many more times in his life so he needed to learn how to handle it in a way that was healthy.

He was resolute.  The friendship was over.  He absolutely could not forgive the offense.  He was too vexed/hurt.

I felt him in that.  I know that stubbornness well.

I suggested that he not make a decision right then but take the rest of the evening/night to think about it and to see if he had it in him to talk to the friend the next day and fix their relationship.

 

I am happy to report that the next day he initiated a conversation and he and the friend “were able to work it out”.  Jay even told the friend that he was sorry for not accepting the initial apology.  I thought that was very big of him.

I also had a talk with the staff at the after-care program.  They gave me some insight.  He’s not being bullied.  Apparently all this fuss is over a game called 4 square.  It has become a real problem.  It’s all the kids favourite game, but it also brings on some intense arguing/shit talking/accusations of cheating etc.  (Jay confirmed this as well).  The staff did agree to facilitate a talk with the kids and act as mediators.  Since it has become such an issue, if this mediation doesn’t fix the problem, they will ban the game from being played altogether.

 

I honestly don’t remember anything like this in my elementary school days.  It’s a little crazy to me but here we are.  Wish us luck going forward.  I don’t want Jay to have such a hard heart when it comes to forgiveness.  I also don’t want him to get bullied for real, so there is a part of me that’s happy about him not taking anyones crap.  I don’t want him crapping on anyone else either though and by all accounts, he’s dishing it as much as he’s taking it.  All the kids are.  Yikes!  What a balancing act this whole raising children gig is.

 

Partly for her and partly for me December 18, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — The B Side @ 12:11 pm
Tags: , , ,

Jay had a rough start with his social skills group.  He’s been going for a few months now.  But for the second week in a row, when I went to pick him up last Thursday, they told me what a great job he had done.

“He participated really well today.”

“I had to make him sit on my lap, but he sat for circle time without me physically pinning him down.”

“We asked each kid to go around the circle and say hello to everyone and he did.”

“We played a relay game where the kids had to run and hi-five the person on the other side, then go to the back of the line and he did it.”

“We did a sequencing activity where there were pictures of a story and we asked the kids to put the pictures in the correct order and he did a really good job.”

I was beaming.

 

Jay then came out of the gym area and I asked him if he was ready to go.  He told me he needed his jacket.  I told him to go get it which he did.  Then he asked me if he could get a lollipop.  I told him to ask Ms Jackie nicely.  He made his way around the reception area and asked very politely if he could get a wowipop.  He took off the wrapper and threw it in the garbage.

 

All this was happening while we were unknowingly being watched by a mom who was bringing her son in for the first time to do an evaluation.  I caught her eye as I was wrapping up making my payment and smiled at her.  Her son seemed to be about 3 years old and non-verbal.

She asked me how old Jay was and had he been coming to this place for a long time.  I gave her the info and then added:

“He’s come a long way this year.  Really.  For some reason, between age 4 and 5, we’ve seen more improvement in his speech and behaviour than in any previous year.  Last year he wasn’t talking at all.  He was tantrumming a lot.  But now he understands so much more and will tell us what he wants or needs.  He answers questions, eats more things and is more reasonable and tolerant.  It’s not all because of this place, but they have been great in dealing with him and helping him.” 

 

She seemed to exhale a little.  Then she asked Jay his name.  He laughed and ran to the other side of the room.

I stayed there talking with her a little bit longer while Jay and another little boy rolled around on the super fuzzy floor mat.

I called out to him and asked if he was ready to go.

“Yes.”

I held out my hand and he came to me.  I said to him:

“Jay, this lady would like to ask you something.”

She asked him his name again and he said:

“My name is Chay.”

It sounded robotic and scripted, but it was correct.

She held out her hand to shake his but he leaned into her and gave her a big hug.

I was totally surprised.  My kid is not very friendly usually.  He’s not a fan of strangers but I think it’s just what she needed and he had clearly picked up on that.

We all said our goodbyes and me and Jay walked out into the cold night air, hand in hand, with our arms swinging.

 

I thought about that mom and her son for the entire rest of the evening.  I really hope that I had said something helpful and that the little bit that she had seen of our life provided her with some level of hope and/or inspiration and/or reassurance.

I remember the first time we took Jay to that place.  I remember how hard it was to hear the owner tell me all the ways that Jay was behind and all the areas in which he needed improvement and what they would/could do to help him and us.  It seems so long ago now.

That mom probably doesn’t know that she gave me a gift that evening.  It made me feel really good to talk about my son and all the progress that he has made this year.  I felt like I was floating on a warm cloud.

 

DONKEY! September 12, 2012

Filed under: Life on the Jay train — The B Side @ 12:22 pm
Tags: ,

I can’t remember where we were coming from.  That’s irrelevant to the story really.

What you need to know is that we had just parked the car and were getting out.  Since Jay no longer wants or needs assistance exiting the car, I was standing a couple feet away when he jumped out onto the side walk.  CC was unloading things from the trunk (I think).  Ace was still inside the car.

 
So far, everything was totally ordinary.

 

I didn’t notice them, but a couple had walked past us.

Jay runs to them.  Stops in front of the man.  Points at him and says “DONKEY!”

 

Ahm … what?

 

DONKEY!”  he says again.

The man has no idea what to do or say and who could blame him.  I doubt if this happens to him everyday.

The couple smile and attempt to keep walking.

DONKEY!”

I make my move towards them and the man turns around to face me.  That’s when I see it.  There’s a picture of a donkey on his T-Shirt.

Ahh, now I get it.

I smile at the couple and remind the gentleman that there’s a donkey on his shirt and I think I say that Jay likes animals but I’m not sure if I did and even if I did I’m not sure the couple heard me.  They chuckled and went on their merry little way.

 

I know Jay loves animals and likes to point them out when he sees them but yeah … We definitely need to work on some social skills.

🙂

 

Social Skills Group – Maybe? June 20, 2012

Filed under: Life on the Jay train — The B Side @ 9:09 am
Tags: , , ,

This evening we’re taking Jay for an … evaluation? introduction? trial?  I don’t know what to call it.

We’re taking him to a place in our town to see if they think he’s a good fit for a “social skills” play group.  There are a few groups that meet there at different times.  Each group has 4 or 5 children.  They learn about playing games appropriately and about sharing and taking turns and about reading people’s body language and facial expressions and all sorts of other things that will help to improve his … well … social skills.

By all accounts it’s run by a really good and highly qualified OT specialist.  I have heard nothing but good things about them from other parents as well as from Jay’s current therapists and even his neurologist.

 

I hope she thinks he will make a good addition to the group.

 

That’s all I got for today.