Because we have three children who need a great deal of attention and we both exhibit serious introverted/ hermit proclivities, the Cabana Boy and I are probably terrible examples of one of the skills our children need to learn: how to make close friends.
Now that Captain Oblivious is off to junior high, we are of course probably uber-focused on his social life, trying to ward off an assortment of bad things. Junior high is all about social, you know? The one thing he likes–musicals–is not something that young men are usually focused on at that age. At least not the kind that go to his school.
So the MIL suggests a program called Circle of Friends, where the guidance counselor can actually create people who the Captain can depend on at school. The Intro explains:
The Circle of Friends is not a mere social skills group; it goes beyond that to a more specific focus, developing friendships and providing a quality education for a child with special needs, one that includes learning about social skills through peer relationships and direct instruction. A regularly scheduled Circle of Friends group will help a child in need of social skills develop an idea of what friendship can be about.
But somehow this sounds familiar…why is that? Oh yeah. This is the reason that the school system wouldn’t transfer the Captain to his home school for sixth grade when we wanted him to be out of his “special” school for a year before junior high so he was better prepared. They said that if he stayed at the school where he’d been for four years, that these people would be friends that would help him transition into the junior high. They specially invited these kids to have lunch with the Captain each week one-on-one to get to know him. This was supposed to create those wonderful bonds.
Well, we saw a number of these ‘friends’ over the summer and at school orientation. The Captain would greet them with enthusiasm and they’d roll their eyes, or worse just walk by and make a comment to whoever they were with. Some friends. He’s even come clean now with reports that some of these ‘friends’ have threatened him if he speaks to them in front of anyone else.
Maybe the concept of peer mentors isn’t a bad one. This story using the program has kids fighting over themselves to be the child’s friends. Wouldn’t that be great? But I can’t see it as realistic.
So we consider home school at the same time we acknowledge it will likely damage his social abilities even farther not to be forced to deal with other children his age for five days a week. It’s so ironic that Little Miss was always more severely impaired, with her dx of classic autism, but she’s come so much farther on the social scale than the Aspie. We’re open to suggestions. Fire away…