It is commonly known that students who have learning disabilities often struggle with social skills, especially kids on the spectrum or those with Asperger's Syndrome.
Here's the good news. Like any skill, the ability to socialize with success can be taught. Kids at Harp learn to think of others, be respectful, and act with empathy through games, role playing, modeling, social stories, and a step-by-step curriculum.
Sometimes, kids need to learn to communicate. They need to learn to wait their turn to speak and to practice listening. They need to understand that other kids have feelings and that certain words and actions can hurt or offend those feelings.
Some children have a difficult time speaking up or advocating for their needs. These children might be shy, have anxiety, or be afraid of being around other kids. They might have language or auditory processing delays that prevent them from effectively communicating. Or, they might have unique or different humors that other children don't understand.
The Pain of Poor Social Skills
Do you have a child who struggles socially? You aren't alone, and it's heartbreaking to watch your bright child sit alone at lunch, get bullied, or suffer from isolation. Most of the time, kids are desperately aware of their inability to socialize. They either come on too strong or pull back and fail to initiate friendships.
To be social is innate in humans. Even if your child seems content to be without friends, we all know it's a difficult road to go through life alone. The ability to get along with coworkers is crucial for life success. Yes, some jobs are solitary, but at some point, your child must learn to socialize.
Even worse, kids who lack adequate social skills are bullied more than their more sociable peers. It's frightening to turn your children loose in a world that they aren't prepared to navigate with success! Sometimes normally nice kids are put to their limits and end up so frustrated that they fight back in the only way they know how. Either way, the outcome isn't ideal.
Isolation Doesn't Lead to Happiness!
Children who don't have friends are often depressed and unhappy. They may not admit to it, but they with with all their hearts that they were invited to play dates, birthday parties, picked for sports and school groups, and knew how to play games.
It doesn't have to be a world of isolation. Kids can be taught how to initiate friendships, communicate effectively, and reign in their tempers. They can learn to share, take their turn, engage in impulse control, and think about where they are in space so they don't annoy others.
Kids want to do fun things. It's how they learn and grow. They engage their imaginations and interact with peers. Play is one of the best "schools" for preparing a child for a successful adulthood. Sometimes, children might have a missing or incomplete tool box, which leads to isolation.
With the right set of tools, they learn to socialize. They learn to think of others. They learn and respect where personal space is. They shake hands and look people in the eye. They learn to curb "goofy" or odd behaviors that other kids might think is weird.
Social Skills Deficits
Many things can go wrong with a child's ability to socialize effectively. To begin with, kids who suffer from social skills issues usually fail to read normal social cues in others. They might talk in a monotone or "loop" about the same subject over-and-over again. They lack in basic communication skills, which isn't just hard on them, but those around them.
You might have adjusted to your child's idiosyncrasies, but not everybody can do that. And, sadly, you can't be everywhere with your child for the rest of her life. Without knowing it, you might be contributing to you child's social skills problems. It's only human nature to want to help your child, so you might be filling in, helping too much, or just waiting for the problem to go away.
If only it were that easy!
Interpersonal communication skills include nodding, smiling, eye contact, physical stillness, and attentiveness to another person's talking. Giving feedback, connecting with what someone else is saying, and contributing to a conversation are also crucial communication skills.
Mutual problem solving is also important for lasting social skills success. Problems are a natural part of life, and even a group of children having fun will encounter problems. If a child insists on having his way, won't listen to other ideas, or withdraws from reaching a solution, it can be bothersome to others.
Here's the good news.
Problem solving skills can be taught! Kids can learn to share, refrain from having their own way, stop taking toys or items from others, and work together as a team to reach a mutual solution.
Empathy is Where It's At
Children who struggle with empathy can be taught to think and predict other people's needs and desires. They can learn that certain things might hurt or upset others. Even kids with autism or Asperger's Syndrome can succeed in reading social cues from others.
Lisa feels that most kids on the spectrum are too empathetic. "They are more sensitive than other kids, and because of this, they "feel" at a deeper level. Because of this, they shut down, often enough so others think they don't care about people's feelings, when in fact, they over-care and over-feel," Lisa explains.
At Harp, we've had excellent results teaching children to be empathetic, or at least to show the actions of empathetic behavior. We believe in baby steps every step of the way when it comes to social skills instruction. That way it isn't overwhelming for an already overwhelmed child!
Poor Language Skills are Often at Fault
Sometimes children are immature or lacking in the proper language skills to communicate effectively with their peers. It's important to strengthen these language skills before socialization comes into play.
We start with body/brain connection activities. This "primes the pump" for learning new language skills. From there we start into the meat of our social skills program. Without addressing the language component, it's like asking the kids to run a marathon when they haven't learned to walk yet.
Once kids can speak clearly and efficiently, then we can get into the meat of the Harp Socialization Program.
We require a three student minimum to open a class. Cost: $45.00 per class.
We do tuition based billing, so we don't prorate. In order to enroll in our home school classes, we require a one time enrollment fee of $25.00. This allows us to put your child in our system
Monthly fee per Social Skill's class: $180.00
Following is the current schedule for both Lodi and Oakdale:
Call (209)365-0950 to register
Class Time: Tuesdays 2:30 to 3:30
Call (209)844-5414 to register
Class Time: Tuesdays 2:00 to 3:00