Sad fact, there are bullies in this world.
And although most schools have programs in place to reprimand bullies and anti-social behaviour in school, there is less emphasis on social skill classes that teach children how to handle an anti-social situation.
These classes are very important for our ASD children, especially, due to them most often not able to interact in social settings as easily as NT children.
I would like to point out though that having social skill classes should be something that is provided to all children in school, because not only would it help children who get bullied but it may also help the children who bully. #Foodforthought
But let us concentrate on the skills that I think are important to teach our ASD kids. My mermaid needs reminders often but has managed to master most of the social skills needed to act appropriately in a bullying situation, and in fact now stands up for her other friends. #proudmamamoment
Why are social skill classes important
Let’s start with the basics.
The importance of these classes is to promote self-awareness and social activities that render positive outcomes (such as friendship). This is a life skill and it’s important to often re-visit these skills as they are key in helping us navigate our social jungle. It is also very important that the skills get tested in real situations, not just taught theoretically. (By going out into the world and applying the social tools directly)
Top 5 lessons to teach
These can be created with drawings, playing with dolls or by downloading the vast number of images that are scattered on the internet, there are also some good YouTube videos about social skill classes. Tailor the lessons to suit your childs needs and capabilities. Remember that professionals like School psychologist, behavioural and occupational therapists, PE teachers and health care professionals are all armed with social skill tools to help your child if you need more information.
Here are the basics skills you want to teach your child:
- Stand up tall, back straight. (a bully is less tempted to bully someone who looks confident!)
- Walk with friends. ( Bullys are less likely to confront a group)
- Say NO and STOP to the bully. (Be vocal, saying no is important!)
- Tell an adult with a friend. (Helping friends is a great social skill on its own, also helping friends get away from a bully and together go to an adult)
- Tell an adult. (Regardless of what has happened if your child feels wronged, tell an adult. Adults should always help!Instilling a safety net in the adults around your child is also key to them builing up confidence)
Now, these tools really can help. But every child is diffrent, ASD or NT child, how a child reacts to being bullied is individual for each person. For parents it’s important to know the signs to look for if you suspect your child is being bullied, things like:
- Change in appetite (over or under eating)
- Sudden change in apperance or materialistic needs (Needing the latest designer brand etc when previously didnt care)
- Feeling more often unwell, complaints of headaches,stomach aches etc
- Change in how they react to their surroundings. More anxious or more withdrawn.
- Over or under reacting to situations. Go from 0-60 can be a sign of stress and anxiety.
The key is to note changes in your child, it will be subtle changes that only you will notice at first, most likely. But once you notice them you can take steps to help. Remembering that the school should provide you with a great social care team to help your child through whatever it may be. If the school doesnt help you go to your health care provider.
Having the skill set to be social doenst necessarily mean your child has to start hanging out with lots of friends, many kids with ASD enjoy playing alone because they can find being with others ‘disrupts how they want to play the game’ and ‘ can be to loud/noisey/messy’ etc. Each child will have their own social needs, however NO CHILD should have to endure a bully.
So, by learning and rehearsing these social skills you can equipt your child so they are ready for any situation that may come their way.