By Kathy Kuhl, from Learn Differently

 

“Socialization”, the word all homeschoolers hate.

This is not because we hate socialization, but rather the fact that relatives and even complete strangers keep asking us about it.

 

As parents of kids with special needs, we do want to help our kids develop social skills, just as we would if they were in public or private school, and sometimes we have to seize the moment.

“My son is just opening up this year, wanting to be around other kids and I am looking for friendly opportunities.”, Mary wrote today, asking if I could help her find a Boy Scout troop open to boys on the spectrum.

 

Whether it’s a Boy Scout troop, Girl Scout, scouting program, team, or extracurricular activity, here are my five tips for finding a good fit for your exceptional child:

  1. Ask your local homeschool friends. At local homeschool support groups, ask around. Don’t forget to post queries to local homeschool lists, message boards, and groups on social media. When you get replies, ask a few questions. Chances are, the parents will love to tell you about what their kids are doing.

If you are talking to someone who doesn’t understand your child’s special need, plan ahead. Think of short ways to explain your child’s behavior: “He loves camping and is very diligent, but is a bit socially awkward.”, “She misses social cues, but is very kind-hearted and loves crafts.” This stranger,  and even the group leader, doesn’t need too much detail initially.

  1. Ask your local chapter of your favorite special needs support organization: CHADD, the Autism Society, Learning Disabilities Association.
  2. Check with your local chapter of the ARC, which deals with a variety of special needs.
  3. Realize that every troop and group is different. When we were looking for a Boy Scout troop many years ago, a friend advised us to visit at least three troops. If we weren’t happy with the first one we visited, she said then we had options. Every group has its own personality.

And if you visited a group a few years ago and didn’t like it, you might go back. That kid your child couldn’t stand may have grown up, or your child may have. That unsympathetic parent may have moved on. The culture of the group could change, especially in places where people frequently move in and out.

  1. When you find the right group, give the leaders a little, but not too much, information. When they do ask a question, resist the urge to launch into your excellent five minute lecture on your child’s disabilities, I’ve felt that urge. You don’t want the leaders to become afraid to ask you anything. Keep it simple.

 

Keep it practical:

“Tom loves scouts. He has attention deficit disorder. He’s not hyperactive, but he is easily distracted. When you need his attention, please call his name before you give him instructions. A tap on the arm can also get his attention. Thanks so much for working with the troop.”

“Sarah is so glad to be in this group. She has an auditory processing disorder that makes it hard for her to make out one voice from other sounds. Her hearing is excellent. Talking louder won’t help, but make eye contact first, tap her arm, and say her name. Then move to the side of the room where it is quieter. We are so grateful for your work with the girls. Can I bring refreshments next month?”

When you’ve found the right group or troop, what’s next? See ‎my next post in this series for tips on helping your child succeed in that group activity.

———————————————————————-

Kathy Kuhl equips and encourages parents to help children with learning challenges. After homeschooling a bright, dyslexic, creative, and highly distractible son for grades 4–12, she interviewed 64 families homeschooling students with learning difficulties to write Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner. This handbook helps anyone supporting teens and children with challenges—including learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, autism, and giftedness—and others who “learn differently,” whether diagnosed or not.

 

 

 


Did you enjoy this article?

Support the ongoing work of

SPED Homeschool

Donate Today

 

 

 by Jen Dodrill from History at Home

 

For some people, homeschooling is synonymous with being unsocial or even antisocial. We as a collective of homeschoolers don’t know why. We know our kids are socialized. At least we try to make that happen, but what if your child has social or sensory needs and you feel like socialization isn’t happening?

In this post, I want to look at what socialization is and offer some tips for socialization for kids with social and sensory needs.

My personal experience – I’ve learned so much from my granddaughter about sensory needs. She is in therapy to learn how to adapt, and my daughter passes on what they’ve learned so that we all can work with her. Anything we can do to help my granddaughter is what we will do!

Let’s start with defining socialization.

 

What exactly is socialization?

In a paper on Home Schooling and the Question of Socialization, the author says – “What makes this question so puzzling is that different people mean different things by the word socialization. Some people mean social activity…. Others mean social influence…. And some mean social exposure…. but socialization can be more accurately defined as “the process whereby people acquire the rules of behavior and systems of beliefs and attitudes that equip a person to function effectively as a member of a particular society” (Durkin, 1995b, p. 614).”

I will not put down people that have their own ideas of what socialization is and how to achieve it, but I want to point out that the above definition is not restricted by place, time, or age. 

Socialization is truly less about activity or influence and more about equipping our children to function in their world.

Keep that in mind!

 

Direct and indirect socialization 

When our kids are small, they play alongside each other or in the same room. This is a form of indirect socialization. All children do this, but as they get older, they typically start interacting directly with their playmates.

For kids with social or sensory needs and disorders, indirect socialization is all they want, and it can be very helpful. However, if your child has social or sensory issues, you know that direct socialization can be difficult. For some it is doable with lots of cues and repetition, but for some kids it is almost crippling.

In the article 5 Tips for Homeschooling Your Child with ASD, the author says we still need to provide ways for our struggling kids to socialize – or interact – with others. Some ways they have listed include:

  • Homeschool co-op
  • Homeschool class at the zoo, museum library, etc.
  • Playing a sport, gymnastics, ballet
  • Music/choir lessons
  • VBS or other church activities

You know your child, and you either know how much to push or you’re learning! It may be a constant, on-going process. That’s okay, we are all learning.

 

Tips for socialization for kids with social and sensory needs 

Too many people can be overwhelming for many kids, and adults. Loud noises, too many lights, it adds up to overstimulation and it can happen fast! Once they’re over stimulated it’s hard to get them regulated and they might shut down or meltdown.

Some socialization tips for our kids:

  • Safe spot and person – Identify a safe spot or person for your child to go to if they’re becoming overwhelmed – my daughter always does this. Even early on, before we knew there was an issue, we did this.
  • Knowing someone there – It’s hard being the “new” kid, so knowing someone at the place or event can help lower anxiety.
  • Just being around others but not necessarily interacting – A baby step towards more direct interaction.
  • Library story times or other small groups are usually easier.
  • One person talking – This can cut down on overstimulation.
  • Give choices – Help your child to identify when they can make a choice and then offer it. You will learn if you need to push a little or a little more. For example, my granddaughter sometimes wants to order at a restaurant, but not always. She knows she has a choice.
  • Split birthday parties – Have one for friends and one for family. Holding it outside is a great idea, and even here you can assign a safe place and person.
  • Consider a lower-key holiday celebration. I have 5 kids (all grown), plus their spouses/significant others and children.  Our celebrations are always loud and busy. This can be super hard on my granddaughter, and even a couple of my kids. Be mindful of this and accommodate as you can.

 

Wrapping it up

What other people think about socialization is their business. We must equip our children to function in the world in the best way we can, while meeting their needs.

It can seem like a lot of work to teach our kids with social and sensory needs to socialize. And it is. But keep doing it! You’re learning right alongside your child.

Ask for help, look up other tips and ideas to do the best for your child. And keep in mind what your goals are for your child. No one else can define that for you. It might be helpful to seek help from someone who specializes in the sensory area, ABA or OT,  to help you define those goals and figure out exactly how to reach them.

You have a choice in how you make socialization happen!

 

Jen Dodrill has been married for 35 years, is a proud mom to 5 kids, and she homeschooled the three youngest. The “baby” graduated in May 2020, but Jen refuses to bow to empty-nest syndrome! She teaches Oral Communication as an adjunct instructor and writes curriculum under  History at Home at TeachersPayTeachers and  Boom Learning. When she’s not working, she is spending time with her kids and, adorable, granddaughters. Connect with her on her blog – Jen Dodrill History at Home , Instagram, Facebook, and her favorite place – Pinterest!

 

 

 

 

 


Did you benefit from this article?

Support the ongoing work of

SPED Homeschool

Donate Today

 

 

Sherry Martin

To have a friend…be one” were the words the iron trivet in the little Texas kitchen of my childhood.  I used to look at those words every day and I knew they held wisdom, but for the life of me, I could not figure what that wisdom was.  

I always made friends easily, maybe because I was an only child and no friends meant no playmates.  It wasn’t until much later when I had kids of my own that I realized not everyone possesses the ability to form and maintain friends.  

 

Struggles Turned to Homeschooling Goals
As a mother of a son with special needs,  I experienced the pain and helplessness of having a child who was rejected, isolated and he knew it.  I prayed he would grow out of it.  I had no clue of what to do about it. This was the early 90’s, and all anyone was focused on for children with special needs, were their academic shortcomings.

As homeschool parents we teach our children everything from how to hold a pencil to analytic geometry.  Do we need to add social skills to our busy lives too?  The answer is a resounding …YES!

 

Social Skills are a Foundation
Helping your child develop these skills is crucial to a happy, abundant life.  All of us are born with the desire for meaningful relationships, and experiences with others that add to our confidence, enjoyment, and well-being.  These skills teach our children how to express and control their emotions, take turns, ask for forgiveness and many  other necessary social graces they need to become proficient in navigating the communal highway.

Remember, social skillfulness is also important in laying a foundation for our children to become confident spouses and parents later in life.

 

 

 

 

 


Did you enjoy this article?

Would you consider a small donation to support the ongoing work of SPED Homeschool?

Click Here to Donate Today