Sometimes

My friend lives in a world by himself.
Sometimes, he lets me join him.
Sometimes, he doesn’t.

My friend is like the sun.
Sometimes, he shines.
Sometimes, he disappears to a place I can’t see.

My friend is like a puppy dog.
Sometimes, he listens to what I say.
Sometimes, he just doesn’t understand.

My friend is like Abraham Lincoln.
Sometimes, people are amazed by his honesty.
Sometimes, they are angered by it.

My friend is like an Encyclopedia.
Sometimes, all his knowledge is very impressive.
Sometimes, I get bored and want to put him aside.

My friend lives in a world by himself.
Sometimes, I invite him to join my world.
Sometimes, he joins for awhile.

Public School Issues- Teacher Training

To state the obvious…The place where students with social pragmatic language disorders must function is the environment in which they exist. In schools, teachers are the primary adults dealing with these students- not therapists or specialists.

As such, teachers need support in three general areas:

  1. Helping target students with classroom/school day support systems for their specific issues
  2. Encouraging positive peer support and interactions
  3. Understanding what information/observations need to be provided to specialists so that appropriate support systems can be developed/modified/removed. These systems must be relevant to existing issues in order to be effective.
The Meeting

To address all three of these areas, at the beginning of the school year (or sometime during the school year if that’s when the student gets a diagnosis or arrives in the classroom), it’s helpful to have an informal, informative meeting with all interested parties. Then a plan of action can be developed. This particular gathering does not need to be an official IEP meeting. This is a “we need to learn about what makes this child tick and how can we help him/her” meeting. At this meeting, teachers need to have questions answered that target the three general areas. Questions might be:

  1. What do I need to provide this child beyond what I provide already?
  2. Who will help me prepare or what is an easy way for me to prepare materials the child needs so that he/she can be properly supported?
  3. What should I do if (name the scenario- might include meltdown issues, disruption, peer relationships problems, withdrawal, organizational problems, writing issues, lack of work completion, issues with rigidity, etc.)?
  4. How can I help with friendships?
  5. What is the best way to communicate with parents? With support/therapy staff?
One important point:

Some schools are GREAT!!!! Some schools are NOT!!! Most are somewhere in between. If you are reading this particular page and like this idea, you probably need to be the person to try to make this meeting happen. It doesn’t matter what your role is- parent, teacher, therapist, advocate, administrator- informal meetings won’t happen unless somebody decides it’s important to have one.

Teachers: HOPEFULLY, you have an informed speech therapist, special ed teacher, counselor, or someone in your building. If you do, learn from them! Work with them and try their ideas. If not, look at some of the resources, books, websites, and ideas presented in “Learning to be Social.” There is a ton of information out there just waiting for people to find and use it.

Inclusion

In some schools, Speech/Language Pathologists or Special Education Teachers will work with the teacher in the classroom. This is a great way to give the teacher workable strategies on how to modify or adapt in the classroom in the moment. How? By being in the class, the SLP/SpEd teacher can learn about the structure of the environment as well as the personalities of the peers. Social thinking instruction can be modeled in the moment. Not only that, but skills needed to develop cooperation, listening, convergent and divergent thinking, language processing, and group interaction can be taught. Teachers love these kinds of lessons. If you are a SLP or SpED teacher wanting to present relevant lessons in the classroom, check out Linda Seth Eve’s G.R.O.W. (Get Rid of Worksheets) books at www.makefunoflearning.com.

Another important point:

Some SLPs and SpEd teachers know a ton about social/pragmatic language disorders, high functioning autism and Asperger Syndrome. Some know very little. Most are somewhere in between. This service may or may not be available at your child’s school, and the quality will certainly vary. If you are an SLP or SpEd teacher interested in this concept, I suggest working on listening as a skill for the first quarter. See the My Favorite Therapy - communication/listening section of this website.