Thursday, July 11, 2013

"It's So Much Work to be Your Friend" Review


My oldest son has high functioning autism; one of his biggest areas of difficulty is social skills.  Danny struggles to respond appropriately in social situations, even though he really likes other kids.  He often gets frustrated and feels like he as no friends.

If you have a child with autism or other learning disabilities, chances are, they struggle with social skills, too.  Every learning disorder has a social component, which makes it much more difficult for kids with LD.

It's So Much Work to be Your Friend  by Rick Lavoie addresses these difficulties and how to help kids overcome them. 

Lavoie says that nowadays kids are in a friendship crisis; they have fewer opportunities to negotiate friendships than in the past when kids were able to roam the neighborhoods more freely.

For kids with special needs, it is even harder because language and learning disabilities are a cause AND a consequence of social isolation.  These kids often have difficulty with reading social cues, social memory, reading and understanding body language, among other things, which makes it difficult to fit in.

Lavoie asserts that we are confronted with hundreds of social contracts each day.  People with appropriate social skills understand that they shouldn't hug a stranger or stand too close to people when talking.  They intuitively know what tone of voice to use in each situation and who they can joke with.  Individuals who have difficulty with the many social contracts they encounter also have difficulty making and keeping friends.

This is a big problem, because, as Lavoie points out: children with social skills problems become adults with social skills problems.

It's So Much Work to Be Your Friend is available in book or video form and is filled with practical advice for parents and teachers of kids with special needs.  For example, Lavoie suggests that parents "share war stories" with their kids so that they feel less alone.  Also, he recommends talking with kids before bedtime when they are relaxed and more likely to talk.  Encouraging hobbies and collections is a great way to foster what Lavoie terms "islands of competency" and gives kids something to bond over.

He provides 5 questions for kids to determine whether someone is their friend and he gives invaluable advice about setting up play dates.

As a mom of a special needs kid, I found this video and book immensely helpful.  Here at Family Matters we have copies of both the DVD and the book in our lending library.  If you live in Illinois, you can borrow  a copy for a month.  We provide a self-addressed, stamped envelope to make returning easy!

If you would like to borrow a copy of this DVD, please contact Family Matters at 866-436-7842.  Or you can visit our website at http://www.fmptic.org/library to order a copy yourself. 



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