Thursday, January 6, 2011

Reading Social Cues and Asperger's

When we had our parent/teacher conference back in December, we got an excellent report on our daughter's academics. Her first grade teacher told us that she's an exceptional reader, which wasn't a surprise to us. She comprehends books at almost the fifth grade level and can read 174 words a minute. When I shared that statistic with my daughter, she said that's her slowed-down time. She can read much faster, but the teacher couldn't hear her enunciate the words adequately. Whatever. Apparently, the teacher thought our daughter had exceptional writing skills also. Not penmanship-writing (that sucks), but her sentence construction is exceptional. I wonder if I have a future blogger on my hands.

The teacher pointed out a couple of problem areas, however. One issue is that her socialization with the other kids isn't great. This, of course, isn't a surprise to us. That's why we got her assessed for autism in the first place. The teacher said that this has been improving as the school year has been progressing, which I've seen as well! That's great news! Yay!

The teacher pointed out another area that concerns her. When our daughter speaks in front of the class, she can get a bit long-winded, and she can't read her peers' reactions to shorten her story or react to their cues. While this is an extremely valid criticism--and really true--it's a big aspect of autism. I mentioned that this is really a part of her disability, and she is getting some help in this area. The teacher pointed out that she's been getting this assistance for 3 months, but she hasn't seen any progress. I was surprised by that comment. For more complex skill such as reading other people, it could take a lifetime for someone on the spectrum to master. It's really not an easy problem to fix. I'm sure there are high-functioning kids on the spectrum that will never conquer this because this is simply too difficult of a skill to master.

Our daughter actually can read the social cues of other people, but she needs to be prompted. When she received behavior therapy, the behaviorist used to look away and ignore my daughter when she started to get long-winded. After a couple of minutes of my daughter still rambling on, the behaviorist would ask, "Am I paying attention?" My daughter could always accurately assess that she wasn't. She then knew how to change her behavior. But it really takes the prompting for her to take notice. A few days ago, I was surprised that she did read my husband's disinterest in some silliness she was engaged in. She actually stopped herself and said that since he wasn't interested, she'd stop. I was shocked. This is the first time I've seen her do that.

Some of her behaviors have been relatively easy to gain ground on, others not so much. I know that reading other people's social cues can be a really difficult skill to master. Whether she'll ever be able to totally master it, I don't know. I do know that she certainly has the foundation to be able to, so I'm hopeful.

16 comments:

  1. Wait? You're supposed to stop talking when someone turns their back to you? Good to know.

    All you can do is keep doing what your doing and the rest will come. Social cues are really, really, difficult. Even for us NTs.

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  2. I know plenty of adults who have more trouble reading social cues then our kids on the spectrum. M

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  3. Wow- three months- she should have conquered any problems she's been having. ;)

    I'd love to see her reaction to Brian's progress after three years of intense therapy....

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  4. Sounds like you need to get some teacher-training written into the IEP. Because obviously just assuming she can read the evaluations of your daughter, can speak to the trained professionals working with your daughter, and can look up as much information about autism as she could ever need hasn't been enough for her to make any progress of her own in the last three months. :)

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  5. sounds so much like my son. He also reads on the 5th grade level. Anyway...sounds like she is doing ok. I am sure she will improve over time. a lot of educators think crazy thoughts like that...they don't knwo what theya re talking about.

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  6. I am a bit taken aback by the teachers comment, this can't be 'fixed', social awareness has to be learned and would she expect another child to learn something so complex in 3 months??!! I think Trish has it spot on, teacher training into the IEP. WTG on the other stuff, sounds like she is doing well :) Jen

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  7. I think her teacher may need to catch up on her reading...really, she can't expect ANY 6-7 year old to talk social cues! Hell, there are days I miss them.
    As an educator this teacher should understand that she has already come a long way and be proud of her.
    Remember that no matter what the teacher says, you are doing right by your girl! Keep up what you are already doing, in the 6 months since I started reading your blog you daughter has already blossomed.

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  8. Sheesh, what's up with the teacher? Is she not familiar with Aspergers? It sounds like your daughter is doing GREAT! I'd love it if my first grader could read 174 words in an HOUR.

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  9. I have been following your blog for some time. I have been waiting for my own daughter's appointment with a developmental pediatrician before I posted. My daughter is 6 and has (finally!!!!) been diagnosed with Aspergers. Today, actually! Your blog has been so fun to follow since our girls are quite alike.

    Angie

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  10. Well she is only in first grade. I'm sure many kids not considered on the autism spectrum aren't necessarily in tune to social cues at that age.

    She sounds like she is doing great!

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  11. oh for the love of god... its only been 3 months... i give you so much credit.. i would 've went off on the teacher... ...that baby girl sounds like shes doing a wonderful job...
    ps my boss rambles on at staff meetings she doesnt get social cues..(we are all texting,,sleeping etc..) maybe that teacher could come to Jersey to fill her in..(lol) ps.. u r an amazing mom my friend!!!

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  12. I think that reading social cues is one of the last dominoes to fall...so if that's one of the biggest issues for her, you are doing extremely well!

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  13. I know adults who are not on the spectrum who have difficulty reading social cues, let alone children!

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  14. Social Cues, hmmmm, maybe the teacher could take a cue from all of you. Do you think she would read your blog?
    I know even I have to be prompted with social cues from time to time, just ask my family. You are doing an amazing job Momma! You're my idol.

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  15. Really? A 6-yo who struggles with social cues? No way!

    That teacher is a bit of a dolt.

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  16. this can be incredibly painful. feeling other peoples dimished concern about things that make you happy and that you want to share with them by talking to them.. then you feel terrible that you smother them with your conversation. they (aspies) are not "unfeeling" they just don't know what to do with the pain they feel. often they harden up. we discuss her long windedness like its a germ.. in reality, her knowledge and care about this subject is valuable.. how do you think einstein and mozart and bill gates and so on.. invented and changed our lives.. they had these curiously, seriously, wonderful areas of interest.. thank God.. someone somewhere, listened to them.. We shouldn't teach them to shut down.. we should teach them to journal and to organize their journals.. sorry, i was so longwinded.. lol

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