I have been delaying doing a post on “socialization”. I have been at a loss on how to approach talking about it, really. So I thought I’d just tell it how it is.
You see, C has LD‘s that severely affect how he is able to handle social situations. C is an affectionate, loving, quiet and intelligent kid. But get him in a noisy crowd, and suddenly he goofs off, gets very loud or runs away, or spends all his time looking at the ceiling, listening to fans or noisy air conditioners.
We went to the OT yesterday for C’s regular appointment. And they’re quite wonderful. They were able to diagnose C and help with very practical suggestions for helping him cope. They also gave us names for the many behaviours we have observed.
Whether we homeschooled or not, socialization was always going to be a problem. When you talk like a professor with a twisted sense of humour (PG), have problems hearing what other say in a crowd (SPD), and have trouble mimicking and keeping up with physical games (Dyspraxia + Idiopathic Toe-walking), interacting with and in large groups of kids can become a new realm of hell.
For example, C got to play with an older kid (8yo) on our most recent holidays. After trying to play eye-spy with such zingers as “Studio Apartment” from C, the very nice 8 yo begged to play something else, like tag (disaster for C), so we all compromised and played hide and seek. And that was a successful ‘play-date’. Sigh.
Back to the OT. As with any professional, they like diagnoses. And we run up, once again, against the gifted vs. autistic/asperger conundrum. One of the best resources I have found to give to professionals is this from the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum (no longer available alas). And this article from SENG is also worth a read. Though Table 1 in this from Hoagies, showing how close Highly Gifted and Aspersers can look, even for a trained professional is good as well. Expecting this, I printed out both C’s Psychologist’s report and the GHF article and gave then to the OT on our first meeting.
Yet we are still confounded with questions like ‘Does he tell stories, have imaginative play?’ (said to me, not to my son who is right next to the OT – guaranteed to get him offside.) Then to C – ‘Would you tell me a story?’
The look she received was what a drunken pub-goer at the “Eagle and Child” might have received had he stumbled into an Inklings meeting and uttered – “So you write stories huh? Tell me a story then.”
|Word List in C’s Language of Erish|
C has a very vivid imagination, as do most highly gifted kids. Over the last 3 years, he has developed detailed maps (we have meters of stacked piles of paper to trip over!), geology, history, language(s) – including their unique symbols and number systems in bases other than 10, population and population densities, location on the globe, and transport routes (a nice quick commute from Sydney on a relativistic speed train) of 4 different countries.
Like almost any writer, C could no more tell a story then than Tolkien could have answered – ‘So what’s all this middle earth stuff anyway?’
Then the OT tries to convince us that C needs more practice socializing (he does), so we should sign him up to an age-based intervention group to ‘teach’ him how to get along with other kids (er…no.)
|Number Symbols with translation|
We have always tried to get C involved in group activities – he does Karate, Swimming, goes to homeschool meetups, and even an occasional gifted meetup. We had the most wonderful playgroup with an amazing group of mothers and kids from when C was 6 weeks until he was 4 (alas all in school now-so we don’t meet as often). We did preschool, we did gifted preschool. He never really (or rarely) joined in, even with kids he’d known all his life. When we went to homeschool meetups, he would stay close to me, or interact for a bit, and then declare “I’m done”. For his 5th birthday, he asked that we do a quiet party… and it is only now that we finally know what was going on inside his head. At least a little. And that is thanks to his OT.
And yet … why suggest an activity, which as DH would say ‘would be hell’ for C? He’s not incapable of interacting – he just prefers Carcassone to Snap.
In the meantime, we have to be his people. That’s what parents are for, right?