Friendship and Drama Queens

Boy, Friendship is an extraordinarily complex topic to teach.  Especially when the potential friend also has issues with social skills.  Without a solid example to use, it quickly becomes a quagmire of conditional rules with multiple exceptions.  “If A, then B unless B involves C, then D…”

We met with G’s teachers after school to introduce his new ipad and go over rules of use.  (ie, no games unless authorized)  As I waited for the students to leave the classroom, his teacher popped her head out, holding our copy of the book, Can I Tell You About Asperger Syndrome:  A Guide for Friends and Family.  She asked if she could send it home with a female classmate for the weekend.  When I said yes, she turned to the girl and told her to read it with her mother over the weekend and told her they would talk about it more on Monday.

I was instantly on guard, wondering what was going on and what I had just opened G up to by agreeing to send the book home.  We had our meeting about the ipad and after all the other teachers had left, DH took over, sending G into the hall with his headphones and ipod so we could talk privately, and he started asking what was going on with the book and the girl.  I have to say, it is always awesome when DH takes the lead like this.  Schools always take Dad’s seriously.

His teacher started to hedge a bit, saying the girl wanted to know how to be a better friend to G.  But we know G has had issues with this particular student before.  For example, the teacher has a system where if conflicts between students cannot be resolved then one of the students can write a note in the class meeting book.  At the next class meeting both parties present their side of the conflict and the class works as a team to find an equitable resolution.  It’s a great system, but this girl loves the attention at these meetings and writes about G in the book for the tiniest things.  G doesn’t even know there’s a problem before it gets brought up in front of the class and between the surprise and the attention, he has a really hard time staying calm.  I was incredibly proud of him a month ago when he expressed himself at a meeting and said he thought the girl should stop writing about him in the book and talk to him first.  The teacher agreed and now she is not to write about G without discussing it with the teacher.  Whenever I see this girl, she gushes over how much she loves having G in the class and being a friend to G.  But it feels more self-righteous than genuine, as if she’s pointing out what a great person she is for being a friend to someone like G.

With DH leading the discussion, the teacher let us know that the girl wrote a note for the confidential comment box saying she is having a hard time knowing how to be a friend to G.  But the teacher also told us that she is aware of the girl is using G to draw attention to herself, that the girl has great difficulty making friendship connections of her own because she is constantly drama seeking and G is really her only friend in class.  I got the feeling this has been discussed with the girls parents before.  I also got the feeling she sent the book home to have it read with the parents as a way to really force the issue with the family.

I know this issue is the girl’s, not G’s.  The girl needs help with her social skills, needs to learn how to be a good friend to a peer just as G does.  But I can’t help but feel defensive and resentful.  It raises every protective instinct I have – I want to tell this girl to stay away from my boy.  I also know my instincts are counter-productive and hypocritical.  If I want G’s peers to give him the benefit of the doubt while he learns social and friendship skills, then I have to extend the same tolerance to other students.  The teacher’s plan is the proper way to handle this situation.  Having the girl learn about autism with her parents is a good thing.  Parent’s of neurotypical children often have a, ‘kids will be kids’ type of attitude.  Maybe this particular situation will force them to deal with their own situation in a way it seems they haven’t in the past.

As much as I want G to learn the skills to develop and sustain friendships, because he likes kids and wants to have friends, the process is turning out to be extremely difficult.  For me, that is.  😉

**I worry about discussing issues with G’s classmates on this blog because of privacy concerns.  No matter how anonymous I try to make this blog, true anonymity on the internet is unrealistic.  I really need to get my thoughts in order on this subject but may end up making this post private to protect the student involved.**

Published in: on March 19, 2011 at 10:58 am  Leave a Comment  

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