Autism and the Community
How do our kids interact within the community?
What about their neighborhood?
I have read stories about neighborhoods that complain about a child with autism. A few of these stories report that neighbors even go so far as to pressure the family to leave.
I have also read (way too many) stories about bullying people with autism.
What is it about being in the community and people on the autism spectrum?
Community interactions are never easy for our kids. They have a natural tendency to struggle with all interactions let alone ones in a public space, within the community, or even with peers.
It takes our kids a long time to learn how to interact within the community.
They actually have to learn the skill of interactions. They have to learn what’s appropriate and what’s not. They have to learn how to talk to people within the community, as well as a modicum of certain behaviors that are reasonably acceptable.
What about my son?
My son began a social skills class at age three. We were encouraged to do this with him, even at a very young age. We were told that kids on the spectrum develop these skills later in life.
To this day, he’s still working on how to interact within the community.
He attends the teen version of the social skill class called a Teen Club.
The Teen Club meets twice a week. It’s a group situation where on a weeknight the teens and facilitators plan outings. They have speakers and also do projects.
On the second day of the week, always a Saturday, the Teen Club meets in the community.
They go to malls, take the train, volunteer at places, take tours, have socials, play board games or sports, and learn other important skills as they go out into the community. They are organized in small groups of four to six and always supervised by a facilitator.
What about close to home?
Another example of how a child on the spectrum interacts within the community is how our son behaves within our own neighborhood.
My son likes to go on his scooter. He’ll ride it on the driveway, or sometimes go down to the street.
Our house is within close proximity of our neighbors. Our driveway is situated in such a way that is angles down a hill along the length of the home right next door.
In a nutshell, we live almost on top of a few of our neighbors.
When my son rides his scooter, he sometimes self-talks. And, he’s not always quiet about it.
I have often had to go outside and point out to him that he’s being a bit loud. I say that we live close to our neighbors and we need to respect some sense of a “quiet” neighborhood.
We need to do our reasonably part, at least.
For the most part, I think if you ask our neighbors, I don’t think they’d say he’s that noisy.
However, I do take it upon myself to point things like that out in order to instruct.
I have to teach him how to live around other people.
He’ll most like live on his own someday and he needs to learn how to be respectful.
This is how we’ve chosen to help our son learn how to interact responsibly within the community. Learn the skills that he’ll need. For the most part, his social interacts “out there” have been a success.
Autism and the Community.
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