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My Child is Odd
child may act the class clown. The child may prefer to hang out with the adults.
The child likely uses phrases, innuendo, jokes or sarcasm heard from others, but
uses them inappropriately, at the wrong time, with the wrong persons. The child
has a poor sense of boundaries, will interrupt, walk in on others or take or use
things without asking. The child may have few friends and those the child does
have are similar in nature. The child may be frequently scolded or punished. The
child struggles at school and may be bullied. This child likely has a learning
disability affecting social skills.
as there are learning disabilities that interfere with academic performance,
there are learning disabilities that interfere with acquiring and utilizing
social behaviour that enable us to get along well and fit in with others.
with learning disabilities affecting social skills have difficulty reading the
social cues of others. They may not recognize emotional facial expressions or
body language that gives clues to guide social behaviour. As such a child with
this learning disability may not appreciate when they have insulted, upset or
frustrated another person. If they cannot recognize the facial expression, then
they are at a loss for modulating their own behaviour in response. Hence they
may carry on with offensive or inappropriate behaviour, not recognizing their
impact. As such, they may be considered rude, offensive or odd.
not only does the child have difficulty reading the social cues of others, the
child likely has difficulty viewing his or her own behaviour accurately. Hence
just as they cannot read the reactions of others, they have difficulty gauging
their own behaviour. When confronted on their behaviour, they are likely to
blame the other person as the source of conflict or upset.
kind of learning disability does not have to be severe to handicap a child. Even
minor problems with social skills are enough to set them apart from their peers
and undermine relationships. It is not that they are poorly behaved per se, but
that their behaviour and social interactions, the result of their problem causes
them to seem odd or out of place. These kids donít seem to fit in.
diagnosis of a learning disability affecting social skills is best made by a
psychologist, who at the same time would likely test for other academic learning
disabilities as these issues often go hand in hand. Just as children require
special methods of instruction to overcome academic learning disabilities, so
too do they need a special approach to manage the impact of a learning
disability affecting social skills.
normal social situations, we take turns talking and let the other person finish
what they have to say. When relating to a child with this learning disability,
we may have to interrupt them if their conversation is inappropriate. The key
though is not to demean or punish, but to directly inform that what is being
said is inappropriate and then, importantly, redirect the child to appropriate
conversation. Further, as these children are likely to copy or imitate the
social behaviour of those around them, but apply those behaviours
inappropriately, then those around the child must be aware of their own
behaviour as a role model to the child. This may require a change in behaviour
for parents and siblings as they learn to understand and manage the childís
learning disability. A family meeting with the psychologist or a social worker
to explain the disorder and required changes can help family members adjust.
This in turn will benefit the child with the problem. More specific
interventions can include special classes to address the childís ability to
read the social cues of others and modulate their own behaviour in response.
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
Call Gary for your next conference and for expert opinion on family matters. Services include counselling, mediation, assessment, assessment critiques and workshops.
For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.
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