Social Skills Impact Life
As an SLP you have the skills to teach children and adults on all levels of the autism spectrum social strategies they will need throughout their lives.
As an SLP you have the responsibility to speak up at an IEP in the school or any setting when you hear that "social skills do not impact education" and state all the reasons why they do.
As an SLP you must convince parents/caregivers/professionals the importance of all social aspects of communication AND share strategies through demonstrations/handouts/conversations/any way you can.
In light of the tragic, horrific events that took place in Newtown, CT on Friday, December 14, 2012, I write this blog with a heavy and concerned heart; a follow-up to my blog, of 12-17-12, School Shooting and Asperger's.
The murderer of twenty-seven souls (including his mother's) is reported to have been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome. He was intellectually gifted and I do not know whether he received speech/language therapy at any time during his education, either through public or private means. It must also be stated that autism/ASD can co-exist with any other disorder, which this young man most likely had. There has been a lot of chatter from the news media about Asperger's and a propensity toward violence. In my mind, I don't want any of that to be true, but in my heart I believe it can, especially when mixed with other emotional and psychological disorders. Now, let me tell you why.
(code for the following: Asperger's + = Asperger's and any other mental disorder)
- People who are quirky, different, weird, socially isolated are BULLIED (I wrote four blogs on bullying July 19, 2012, July 26, 2012, August 2, 2012 and August 9, 2012)
- When people are bullied they become defeated and depressed
- People who are isolated build up rage with no place to release it
- People who are isolated devalue themselves and have a low self-esteem
- People with Asperger's + often explode with rage for little or no apparent reason
- People with Asperger's + are perseverative
- People with on any level of ASD experience high anxiety (blog of 1-12-12)
- People with Asperger's + are smart but cannot always express themselves
- People with Asperger's + have difficulty forming appropriate relationships
- People with Asperger's + do not have empathy or experience feelings in the same manner as typical developing people
- People with Asperger's + do not formulate appropriate questions
- People who are isolated often watch television, movies, play video games to an excess and many of them today are very violent
- People with Asperger's + do not generalize information
- People with Asperger's + have difficulty with Theory of Mind (knowing what another person is thinking and feeling)
- People with Asperger's + have difficulty with abstract language, inferences, and figurative language
People with Asperger's test in the normal to above normal range intellectually. Thus, they do not often qualify for speech/language services BECAUSE social language does "not impact education." BET ME!
The SLP is paramount in giving speech/language services to people on all levels of the autism spectrum for expressive, receptive, and pragmatic (social) language disorders. When we are passionate about doing so, we will be compassionate, and the child, adult, and family will know they are being cared for. All of society will be a better and hopefully, a safer place because of the passion for what we do and KNOW that it is right.
Timothy Kowalski, M.A., CCC-SLP, wrote a great post about mass murderer Adam Lanza in which Tim states:
My hypothesis is that this young man was never treated properly and never learned how to deal with frustrations that all of us experience. IF this is the case, it only serves to highlight the importance of why social skill instruction is critically important when working with these individuals. If we only focus on "academic needs" and not address the real issues that isolate these individuals, my fear is that more of these events will continue.
Is it possible that this event was a warped version of the Star Wars scene in which Luke Skywalker went to the "dark side" and slaughtered the Jedi youngsters? We'll never know but it would be interesting to see if he was a hard core Star Wars guy.
My heart goes out to those touched by this tragedy - and that includes my clients as well. I'm already receiving inquiries from parents as to how to handle this because their kids are asking if they will do that too.
If you hear "it doesn't impact him academically," now is the time to rebut that statement.
Next week I will be back to post what you need to do in therapy in order to promote social learning language skills. Yes, they DO support education and life skills.
Count on it, because with all my heart, I know that
"Speech pathologists make good things happen."