By now everyone has settled into the routine of school. Parents have met the classroom teacher, and begun to form a positive relationship with the education staff members who work with your special needs child.
If you have hopes and dreams for your child’s future in society, the time to emphasize and practice positive social skills is now! Make it a part of your everyday life. It is a proven fact that well developed social skills are the most important indicator for successful employment and a full meaningful life as an adult.
These ideas fit in well with the “6 C’s” of the engagement model that guides all programming of the Lambton-Kent District School Board:
- Communication (A 2-way street):I can communicate my needs and ideas, I also listen to understand
- Collaboration – I am learning to cooperate
- Critical thinking – I am learning to assess and choose
- Creativity – I can think in different ways and create something unique
- Computer education – I can use technology to my benefit
- Citizenship – I am on my way to a full, inclusive, productive life. I understand my privileges and responsibilities
With these items in mind, there are lessons that children need exposure to:
- Accepting consequences for their choices and behaviours – Parents, do not rescue your child!
- Problem solving – identifying the problem
- coming up with several solutions
- weighing the pros and the cons
- choosing an option
- acting on the choice
- evaluating the outcome
- learning that failure is not final, but an opportunity to learn
- Joining in – how to engage with someone
- appropriate conversation starters
- respecting another’s personal space
- Dealing with anger – become aware of the emotion building
- remove themselves from the situation if possible
- learning calming techniques
- when settled, practice communicating what has upset them
- developing strategies for use in future situations
- Learning self control – a huge step in becoming independent
- Listening to understand, not just waiting for the other party to finish in order to say what is on your mind
Some helpful tool kits containing check lists can be found on the web site for the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehab Hospital. Look for the tab – Programs and Services – Timetable for Growing Up. These resources are designed to help children and youth with disabilities to get ready for adult life. A Timetable for Growing Up is a chart of things to consider at different ages and stages, starting at birth.
Skills for Growing Up are checklists to use with children seven years of age and older. These lists are organized into three levels:
- Getting Started
- On My Way
- Almost There
Parents will find these to be very helpful in assisting you to build social skills and maturity in your special needs child to prepare them for a successful and satisfying adult life. Remember that you will not always be there to protect and mentor them.
Vice President, Community Living Wallaceburg Board of Directors
CLW Representative, Lambton Kent District School Board’s Special Education Advisory Committee