At the beginning of October Johnny got into a last minute spot into a Social Skills Friendship building group for Autistic children 8-9 years old. Having friends is a big thing for Johnny so he was eager to do this. We thought it was important because initiating conversations with his peers seems to be intimidating yet he takes risks talking to the parents of his peers.
Johnny has made a connection with a little girl in the group who was his age and they would play together. In the group he would be learning how to greet, initiate conversations, keep conversations going and play. He was happy and having fun.
Absolute train wreck last night at friendship group. Johnny was so excited to see his new friend that he could barely sit still and was bursting with excitement. Johnny’s new friend ignored him and her body language was she was curled in on herself and only participating when asked. He kept trying to talk to her but nothing worked and he said he was VERY frustrated by other kids in group.
“They don’t look at me when I try to talk to them. Mommy they actually ignored me.”
So what Johnny kept doing was he decided that he would attempt to talk to the one girl that he made friends with. Because she was ignoring him he tried to stand closer to her and get his face near her to get her to look at him. Of course the psychologists were than telling him that he needed to stand back, that he was standing too close and that he needs to look at what she is telling with her body. She doesn’t want to play with him or anyone right now. He was extremely frustrated. He felt that she was the only one that actually showed that she wanted to play before and he didn’t know what to do now. Most of the other kids were not looking when they were talking and he felt like he was being ignored.
“I am invisible Mommy.”
They still needed to be encourage on this part of social interaction. I asked Johnny if he felt like he had done something wrong and he started to cry. He is trying to so hard to not make mistakes he doesn’t realize that everyone else around him may or may not have challenges too.
So Johnny came home very frustrated and he had lots of tears. He’s very angry at his Daddy because when the psychologist dropped him off in the lobby she spoke about Johnny right in front of him to Andrew and this is what he said.
“I am angry at Daddy. I don’t want him talking to me. I don’t want him brushing my teeth. I don’t want to even talking to me.”
I asked Johnny why and he said that he was upset that the adult talked about him in front of him to his Daddy and that made things worse.
“Mommy I was standing right there and I was so upset during the group and then I had to hear it. Not in front of me when I’m standing there she should not of done that.”
Johnny’s Daddy cringed when I told him about this and he said Johnny is right and adults should not do that and he’s going to call and complain tomorrow.
So it’s nearly 9:30 pm and Johnny is still telling us how frustrated and angry he is as he slaps things in the house. Not violently but just enough to express his words and more about adding punctuation if you will. It’s not violent and I try realy hard to hide my smirk because gosh darn it he looks so cute right now as he expresses his feelings.
I told Daddy to take him for a walk and let him just let it out and for the two to talk to each other. As they were going out the door I hear Johnny tell Daddy,
“Daddy don’t talk to me. Don’t even talk to me. I don’t want to hear anything right now. I am so angry and frustrated. I am angry and frustrated about the little girl because she seemed nice. I feel like I did something wrong and it was like I wasn’t even there and I don’t know what happened”
I talked to Daddy and he said that a lot of the kids in the group have troubles looking at someone when they’re talking and showing that they are listening to the person so all those kids are working on that. Johnny is the most social out of them all. He said the group is composed of six boys and two girls and Johnny chose the girl that was the most interactive.
So it feels like were in encountering a few things right now.
1) Johnny is frustrated being in a group with Autistic kids that are not all showing that they’re listening and know how to show who they’re talking to by looking at them.
2) Johnny is stepping in someone’s personal space when he gets frustrated because he’s trying to push and interaction and doesn’t like being told that he needs to take a step back and let the person have some space.
3) He thinks all the kids are ignoring him and not wanting to be as friends and he’s not realizing that they all have social challenges that they have to work on too and he is not to blame for this.
It makes me think that this is a good time to show Johnny that how he feels right now about his interactions with this Autistic girl that maybe this is how some of his friends at school feel when they have a hard time getting his attention saying hi to him or try to get him to play. They feel like he’s ignoring them so then if they don’t get a response they move on. Johnny’s Autism teacher at school is really good about not trying to push lots of eye contact but instead teach all the kids that they need to try to always remember how to show people that they are listening to them. Move their bodies towards the person, turn to face them because a little goes a long way by meeting people halfway.
Where does this all leave us now? Johnny told me he was not going to go to the social friendship group anymore. Then after drawing a bunch of pictures he told me that he will go again in November but not in October he is too frustrated he needs to wait till November.
So who wants to tell him that next week is November?