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May 24, 2020

7 Things Parents Need To Know About Social Communication

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When your child has an invisible disability you have unconscious coping skills that you don’t realize until you get smacked in the face with how you’re dealing with certain situations. I was smacked in the face today.

 As my brother sets the car seat down with the new baby Zavier seems to be in awe. He looks at her and asks his aunt “ Is the baby dirty? Do you wash her?” My sister in law in appalled and offended.

“ Zavier you need to watch what you say. Because what you are saying is very hurtful.” My brother responds.

“ I wanted to know if she was clean.” Replies Zavier

“ Why would she not be clean? Your words can be very hurtful.” My brother says.

“ I’m so confused.” You can see Zavier’s face drop and his internal frustration with the situation.

“What’s confusing? You need to stop saying hurtful things.” my brother states. Zavier’s face drops and as my brother walks away from his head drops and he walks back to his room and shuts the door.

My heart just hurts and I follow behind him “ Are you ok?” I ask

“Yes. I just don’t understand.” He replies

“ When you asked if she’s dirty you’re saying that they don’t take care of their baby?” I replied.

“ I just wanted to know does she take baths?” Zavier states

I sigh “ We’ll that’s not how it came out.” I let him know

“I wasn’t trying to hurt their feelings,” Zavier explains

Zavier has Autism Spectrum Disorder and he’s developing social pragmatics. Even though he’s eight years old he just started engaging with other children. He’s working on the skills needed to gauge the effect his words have on people. He doesn’t have any filter. Ironically enough because I’m so excited that he started to engage in conversation with me and other people I tend to try to divert him when he asks questions that seem weird to people. He also has dyslexia and sometimes has difficulty with forming his ideas into sentences.

Zavier’s feelings are hurt, my brother’s feelings are his wife is offended. 

I attempt to explain that Zavier doesn’t mean any harm and my brother states “ For his age, he should know better.”

My brother doesn’t understand that part of Autism is a lack of social communication skills or pragmatics. (sigh) Honestly, it’s not a hot topic that everyone talks about either. (LOL) Here is a quick overview of “What’s Social Communication.”

What’s Social Communication?

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Usually when Zavier says inappropriate things I just cut him off or redirect his thoughts.  Most often he’s confused and I explain to him how to approach a person next time. But I’m always on alert because he will randomly walk up to a person and ask questions or make comments. To be honest it can be a little overwhelming since the situation increases my anxiety. 

I just never had to do that with my family. My brother is telling me I need to be more proactive with letting them know at the time if the incident. I’ve never done that before because I don’t want to embarrass Zavier. I guess it’s time to try something new. Work on more behavior modeling which is when you show kids how to interact in situations. The therapist uses this method with kids when they are trying to teach them how to interact in different situations with children.

Modeling Behavior

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