By Sarah Walkey Mcubin


If you have a twice-exceptional (2e) child who wants to make friends, you may have noticed that they have to work extra hard socially. Skills that are easy for others may be very difficult for 2e kids. Thankfully there are many ways to help them make great friends. 

After spending my childhood and teen years as a gifted child who never fit in, something clicked in college when I realized that I was not destined to struggle socially. Talking to people became like math. A subject that could be learned and was not a mystery. I started to watch and listen in conversations with a new interest. Instead of feeling completely stressed that I would again say the wrong thing, I became curious about the reactions I was seeing and started making note of the way people behaved and talked. 


The Problem With Making Friends

The problem with making friends for anyone that struggles socially is that making friends is actually a pretty active process. It is unreasonable to expect that if someone doesn’t actively talk to people that they will build relationships. 

However, if someone is introverted, shy or reserved, they may struggle to simply start the process of making friends and choose to avoid being around people. An extrovert will have so many interactions with people that they are bound to meet people that have similar interests and form a deeper connection. Though someone who struggles socially will have less social interactions. This results in less opportunities to find someone who has similar interests. It is a self-perpetuating cycle, but it doesn’t have to be! 


5 Ways to Make Friends

1 – Participate in Regular Activities Based on A Child’s Interests. 

It is much easier to make friends when you are around people who have similar interests. Instead of trying to find friends, accidentally, by hanging out at parks or in general homeschool groups,  choose to sign up for classes or activities that are based on your child’s interests. They will automatically be spending time with people who like the same things as them which is one key to friendship.


2 – Practice Basic Conversation Skills & Asking Good Questions 

Social settings are so much easier if a parent takes the time to role-play social situations. This can be done EVERY TIME they are headed into a social situation that stresses them out. You can practice questions to ask, how to answer questions they don’t know and the general process of conversation, where people ask questions back and forth. 

Here are 100+ Funny Questions to Ask Kids 


3 – Practice Reading Social Situations

Oftentimes, 2e kids are more sensitive and may struggle to interpret the intentions of others. This can result in getting their feelings hurt more easily. In order to help kids understand their world, I love to practice reading social situations. 

One of my favorite ways to learn social skills with my kids is to let them talk about interactions they observe. If someone gets into a fight or someone gets emotional, or is super happy, those are all great opportunities to observe and discuss.

Questions you can use to discuss a social interaction can include:

-What did you see happen?

-Why do you think they reacted like that? Could there have been another reason? 

-Do you think they could have been unhappy because of something else in their day? 

-If you were talking to that person what could you say? 

-What if they said something unkind to you, how could you react? 

Practicing understanding social situations from different angles can help kids understand the nuances of social interactions and be less sensitive if something does come up. 


4 – Look Out for the Underdog

One of the things I learned being the kid that stood in the back alone was that I LOVED the people who would come find me to say hello. You see, I didn’t use any of these tips when I was growing up. I just waited for people to talk to me. 

In college, I realized that I didn’t have to do that. In the dining hall at school, I would get my tray and then look for someone sitting alone and ask if I could eat with them, and everything changed. I realized that if I did that all the time, I would never have to be alone. 

Teach kids to look around and SEE who else is alone. They can practice their social skills by going up, introducing themselves and asking some basic questions. Not only will they feel better, the other person likely will too because none of us want to be an outsider in a group. 


5 – Don’t Try to Be Friends With Everyone

The reality is, most people don’t need a whole bunch of friends but one or two good ones would be wonderful. In helping kids to make friends, it can be beneficial if they focus on talking to different people, but only building friendships with those who share their interests and are kind. 

In helping our kids to make friends, it can be equally important to help them identify the kinds of people that DO NOT make good friends. 

When twice exceptional kids are homeschooled, parents have the unique opportunity to structure their days in a way that has just the right amount of social interactions. As your kids grow up, they will likely give input on the kinds of interactions that they enjoy or don’t. It can be tempting to only do things that our kids want to do, but encourage your kids to gradually challenge themselves socially so they can get better at things that are hard. 


Sarah and her husband have 9 children and have homeschooled for 15 years. In her journey to find the right education in each season for each child, she has also used public and private schools as well as hybrid homeschool options. During Sarah’s homeschool journey, she was the President of a homeschool co-op for 6 years and is currently the Treasurer of another. Her passion is to help homeschool leaders confidently offer quality programming without burning out! How? She helps homeschool leaders create realistic policies, stay legal with the government, set program boundaries and learn to communicate clearly so that the community you create is one that you love. Connect with Sarah and her resources on her blog, 10 Minute Momentum




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 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.




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 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!






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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.






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