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Old 01-13-2011, 12:06 PM   #1
lucigo
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Autism Help - I want to be first.

I'm running out of ideas and I'm hoping for some advice. The good news is that my 7-yo with autism is becoming more aware of his surroundings, talking more, interacting with other kids more, and generally more in this world.

The bad news is - he wants to control everything. He has had a problem with wanting to be first in everything since he was about 4yo and nothing has really helped. First in line, first in the car, first out of the car, first to get his seat belt on. If they are singing a song at school that involves standing up and then sitting down, he will watch and try to be first to stand, first to sit.

Now things have escalated. He gets mad at the other kids in his class for picking a book he doesn't approve of at the library, is pushing kids out of the way to be first, is correcting the teacher if she forgets a word while reading to the class.

He has always been a VERY easy kid. He loves his video games, space shuttles, marbles, swimming...but lately I have realized I'm leaving him at home more often because its just easier that way - and letting him play his game more than I should.

He is in a VE class, in 2nd grade, is an exceptional reader and good at math. My hope is that next year he can be in a typical 2nd grade class before moving on to intermediate school, but now I'm worried that won't happen now that he is instigating rather than just responding.

Any advice would be helpful. His teacher is a saint, she really gets him and I'm hoping to have some ideas for her!
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Old 01-13-2011, 01:11 PM   #2
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I had a "helper of the day" who was the line leader, would hold the door for the class (then we would stop and let him/her catch up and get in front.) S/he ran any errands I had, etc. That helper was on a chart that listed all childrens names. Even my 4 year old students knew when it would be their turn. I often heard, "I will be helper in 4 days and your turn is in 9 days." It is a fair system and the kids really liked knowing that their turn was coming!

Also, the kids signed up for computer time and items that were in short supply. When the timer went off, they got the next person on the list. It only took a few weeks for the kids to learn to write their names and to read all the other kids names (because it had meaning for them!)
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Old 01-13-2011, 01:17 PM   #3
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One thing that I use with my AS students and my own kids is to give them numbers to line up, take turns, so the teacher would give each of the kids a number and then they line up according to the number. This helps as the children know if they have one they are first or if they have two they are second etc, it helps as they know they will have one eventually, and that's fair, also the AS kids have a rule which is easier to follow rather than a person telling them what to do. Hope this help
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Old 01-13-2011, 01:30 PM   #4
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Thank you both. His teacher uses visual schedules, as well as timers to keep the lines in check, and at camp last summer he was allowed to be the door holder on the days that he wasn't first in line, which helped. But the obsession is carrying over to every facet of the day. Who got the green pencil, who got the rocket book...who will be first to turn in their paper (even if he isn't first in line there are a million other times during the day that someone will be first).

My only hope is that it will fade eventually, and that the "noise" is louder now only because he has come out of the fog and is more aware of his surroundings. That is supposed to be a good thing, right??
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Old 01-13-2011, 02:20 PM   #5
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As our kids blossum and grow older, the social skills differentials become more apparnet and accute. Knowing whne it is time to do something is very much a social context so allways "being first" makes it easy even if it is not correct. One if the newest identified social skills is "learning to be board" and that may be part of it, as likely is the skill of learning to "take turns". It si nto in our kids nature to "let a mistake go" and is also a learned social skill (on that my DS at 11 still has a lot of work to do on, then again I probably do also).

Reality is that while an exceptionally perseptive and skilled teacher can do a lot to help, your child needs to be in a comprehensive structured social skills program at school to work through as many skills sets as possible.

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Old 01-14-2011, 06:04 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by bookwormde View Post
As our kids blossum and grow older, the social skills differentials become more apparnet and accute. Knowing whne it is time to do something is very much a social context so allways "being first" makes it easy even if it is not correct. One if the newest identified social skills is "learning to be board" and that may be part of it, as likely is the skill of learning to "take turns". It si nto in our kids nature to "let a mistake go" and is also a learned social skill (on that my DS at 11 still has a lot of work to do on, then again I probably do also).

Reality is that while an exceptionally perseptive and skilled teacher can do a lot to help, your child needs to be in a comprehensive structured social skills program at school to work through as many skills sets as possible.

bookwormde
I talked with him after reading this, and he clearly cannot yet understand how other people feel and why he would care if he hurts his friend's feelings. At lunch he and J both go straight to the table while the rest of the class waits in line for food. (He and J bring their lunch.) So lately he has been pushing J and when he isn't first slamming his lunch down on the table and showing his "mad face" (straight out of a video game). When I asked him how J feels about being pushed he couldn't tell me. When I asked, how do you think J would feel if he was NEVER first? He couldn't tell me. When I told him J would be sad it really didn't seem to bother him. We clearly need lots of opportunities for social skills teaching as you mention.

From what I have understood the "social skills" class at the school is really a class in discipline, so its time to sit down with the staff and get something else in place. His class has grown in size and now has 2 aids and 12 kids, so I know she has to be overwhelmed already. I hate to put it on the speech therapist, but she works with both J and my son together so it might be a good place to do small group.

BTW, J has Down syndrome and is the SWEETEST kid. If anyone has the potential to be patient enough to be a friend to my son I think its J, and I hope one day my son will have that capacity!

One more question...
You mentioned learning to be bored, does that mean being able to sit quietly and attentively rather than retreating into their own brain games?
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Old 01-14-2011, 07:57 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucigo View Post
I talked with him after reading this, and he clearly cannot yet understand how other people feel and why he would care if he hurts his friend's feelings. At lunch he and J both go straight to the table while the rest of the class waits in line for food. (He and J bring their lunch.) So lately he has been pushing J and when he isn't first slamming his lunch down on the table and showing his "mad face" (straight out of a video game). When I asked him how J feels about being pushed he couldn't tell me. When I asked, how do you think J would feel if he was NEVER first? He couldn't tell me. When I told him J would be sad it really didn't seem to bother him. We clearly need lots of opportunities for social skills teaching as you mention.

From what I have understood the "social skills" class at the school is really a class in discipline, so its time to sit down with the staff and get something else in place. His class has grown in size and now has 2 aids and 12 kids, so I know she has to be overwhelmed already. I hate to put it on the speech therapist, but she works with both J and my son together so it might be a good place to do small group.

BTW, J has Down syndrome and is the SWEETEST kid. If anyone has the potential to be patient enough to be a friend to my son I think its J, and I hope one day my son will have that capacity!

One more question...
You mentioned learning to be bored, does that mean being able to sit quietly and attentively rather than retreating into their own brain games?
Even if he does empathize with J, I'm doubting he has any way to communicate feelings. Associating words to what we're feeling doesn't come naturally to kids on the spectrum. DD12's OT used a program called the Alert Program using the book How Does Your Engine Run. It taught her words and images and facial expressions and body language to go with different feelings and levels of anxiety. I can't say enough good things about this program. Until the child can actually identify what he's feeling, how can he possibly learn to implement coping strategies or really empathize with what others may be feeling? I know it sounds like it's teaching some language type skills (facial expressions, terms for emotions, etc) but really it was a pre-requisite for the OT to be able to teach DD coping strategies for anxiety induced by her obsessive compulsive tendencies and sensory issues. It was kind of a bonus that it also helped socially.
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Old 01-14-2011, 08:28 AM   #8
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Even if he does empathize with J, I'm doubting he has any way to communicate feelings. Associating words to what we're feeling doesn't come naturally to kids on the spectrum. DD12's OT used a program called the Alert Program using the book How Does Your Engine Run. It taught her words and images and facial expressions and body language to go with different feelings and levels of anxiety. I can't say enough good things about this program. Until the child can actually identify what he's feeling, how can he possibly learn to implement coping strategies or really empathize with what others may be feeling? I know it sounds like it's teaching some language type skills (facial expressions, terms for emotions, etc) but really it was a pre-requisite for the OT to be able to teach DD coping strategies for anxiety induced by her obsessive compulsive tendencies and sensory issues. It was kind of a bonus that it also helped socially.
Looks like an interesting program, thanks for sharing! Will share it with the school!
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Old 01-14-2011, 03:42 PM   #9
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Yes what you are describing is a behavioral class and that is about as far from a social skills class as it gets.

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Old 01-14-2011, 11:09 PM   #10
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OUr 5 yr old goes to a private practice O/t, plus special ed preschool. Her O/T has the How DOes Your Engine Run program too. Once dd is doing really well at O/T, I want to move her to that program, plus they run a social skills program 12 weeks at a time. I'm coming to realize dd will be at that practice for many years, as she moves to the next level. However, since going there, she's become a more spontaneous joyful child, which is huge!!! Anyway, just giving props to private practice help for our kids too!!
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Old 01-15-2011, 12:01 AM   #11
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I have to say he sound just like my 17 year old DD with Aspergers. She has to be first at everything! She also 'controls' what everyone else is saying and doing. She corrects my DH & I...if you are 'repeating' a story to someone & it isn't told exactly as it happened.
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Old 01-15-2011, 06:17 AM   #12
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I met with his teacher, it went pretty well. I was afraid she was really discouraged but she really just wanted to let me know whats going on and brainstorm some ideas to help. She has a curriculum that has large posters with kids in different situations showing emotion that she is going to use to teach about emotions, what to do if you feel that way, etc. and I added that we could come up with some short scripts to play act what to say.

Along those same lines, J and my son have speech together, so going to talk to the ST about some possible scripts or maybe something like making a video or puppet show type thing, interview, etc. to get him to actually talk and listen to J.

She very adamantly wants to keep him out of the behaviors classroom, and still wants to work toward next year having him to to a typical 2nd grade, and feels we need to get this under control now if possible so that he won't be getting bent out of shape constantly.

The only social skills classes I know of in Pensacola are taught through ABA, and our insurance doesn't cover it, but I am a member of the local autism society and will look further into it. I know its something we can work hard on at camp over the summer with typical peers.

There is a regional autism consultant coming to the school and she has put a request in for him to come observe and meet with us. Typically he says what we already know but has the clout to make the school give us more of what we want.

Thank you all, its so nice to be able to get fresh new opinions!!
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Old 01-15-2011, 06:19 AM   #13
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I have to say he sound just like my 17 year old DD with Aspergers. She has to be first at everything! She also 'controls' what everyone else is saying and doing. She corrects my DH & I...if you are 'repeating' a story to someone & it isn't told exactly as it happened.
My first thought when the teacher was describing my son was - oh man he is becoming his dad! My husband is the same way when he isn't on his Celexa! Everything is about control! What kills me the most is when he KNOWS he is right and I KNOW for a fact he is wrong but you just can't tell him anything.
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Old 01-15-2011, 12:14 PM   #14
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The school is required to provide a social skills curriculum for children with and autism classification,since that is a core identified need, but finding programs outside of school is great also.

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Old 01-15-2011, 03:43 PM   #15
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The school is required to provide a social skills curriculum for children with and autism classification,since that is a core identified need, but finding programs outside of school is great also.

bookwormde
At our particular school the social skills curriculum is taught by the "behaviors" teacher, who is great with difficulty children NOT on the spectrum but not so much with our kids. ASD kids have a totally different motivation for their behaviors and as such need a different type of social skills training which at this point is not being taught separate from our regular classroom teacher. Now that said, our VE teacher has taken on several higher functioning autistic kids this year in order to keep them out of the behaviors classroom.

This is one of the things I plan to address at the meeting with the regional consultant. I want to get our teacher as much support as possible.
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