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Old 01-31-2013, 09:01 PM
DrivingPigeon's Avatar
DrivingPigeon DrivingPigeon is offline
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 4,092
2nd Grade Teacher
Students with few friends

I have a few students in my class (both boys) who complain that they don't have any friends. They complain to me, other students, and their parents.

I know that the friendship issues are a result of both boys exhibiting socially unacceptable behavior. One student has ADHD, and is often very loud, makes weird noises, crawls on the floor, etc. He is also obsessed with a computer game that none of the other children in our class play, and it's the only thing he talks about, so they don't have anything in common. He has 1 or 2 friends, but he is always complaining that he doesn't have anyone to play with.

The other boy is just...odd. He talks CONSTANTLY. His mouth doesn't stop moving, and I think that is one of the reason other kids don't like him. He has a very difficult time getting along with every pod that I place him in, because he talks too much and the other kids tell him to stop and he gets mad. He writes letters to other kids saying, "Be my friend or I will tell on you." He is always telling me how many friends he has, and how so-and-so won't be his friend. He has one friend in our class.

I'm not really sure what I can do for these boys. I really want to say, "Other kids don't want to play with you because they think your behavior is strange!" but I know I can't. Conferences are coming up, and I'm not sure what to tell their parents, either. I would like to be honest and tell them that their weird behavior turns other kids off, but I don't know how to do it.
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Old 01-31-2013, 09:30 PM
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FourSquare FourSquare is offline
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 2,309
7th Grade Special Education
No advice! But I know your kids grow up to be my 6th graders, and the socially unacceptable behavior gets even MORE unacceptable in middle school. It is....challenging. Sometimes I want to yell "Stop being weird and rude and maybe someone will let you join their game!"
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Old 02-01-2013, 02:11 AM
BaynJess BaynJess is offline
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 14
NSW Australia
ECT/Primary Education
As a teacher and a mother of two boys with Autism I can assure you many children, not just children with Autism, have quirky behaviours and socially struggle to make friends. May be their parents don't have the ability to help their children to develop the skills needed in forming friendships. These children are most probably unsure how to approach other children in the right way and are struggling to find ways to be "liked".

Instead of assuming that they are just "weird" or actually have control over their "strange behaviour" please consider that they may have an underlying disability. With what you have stated about these boys they both sound like they have Aspergers to me.

Try googling "teaching children with autism about making friends" and you should find a great deal of strategies for helping these children with their behaviour. Creating a "kids club" at lunch time is also another great way of bringing together children who don't fit in around the playground and gives them a safe place to hang out. It is also a perfect opportunity to help these children learn about friendships.

Just think of the amazing impact you could have on these boys lives, others have probably made the same observations as you but have never bothered to help them. They usually get put into the too hard basket.
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Old 02-01-2013, 05:31 AM
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DrivingPigeon DrivingPigeon is offline
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Posts: 4,092
2nd Grade Teacher
Originally Posted by BaynJess View Post

Instead of assuming that they are just "weird" or actually have control over their "strange behaviour" please consider that they may have an underlying disability. With what you have stated about these boys they both sound like they have Aspergers to me.
I sure hope I did't come off as sounding like I think the boys can control their behaviors, or that I just think they are weird. If it were that easy, I would just teach them to stop the unacceptable behaviors. I want to help them learn how to make friends, thus the purpose of my post.

I definitely think that one of them is on the spectrum (the one with ADHD). The other definitely isn't. He is just socially awkward, and always has to have his way, so he has a difficult time getting along with other kids. Thanks for the ideas!
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Old 02-01-2013, 05:56 AM
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lucybelle lucybelle is offline
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 1,594
I completely know where you're coming from. I have a kid who constantly annoys the others and therefore has zero friends. I'm talking zero. And I feel bad for him, but until his behavior changes, that's how it's going to be.

I include him the best I can in class, in class praises, etc. But I just feel I'm not qualified enough to try to change his behavior, so I recommended him to the school psychologist. She says he has Aspergers, which I sort of can see. (the thing is she has also diagnosed 4 other kids in my 100 kid school with Aspergers... so I kind of don't believe her that much)

I keep the psychologist updated and do my best to integrate him into the classroom. I stand up for him and lecture the kids when they are mean to him. They now don't make fun of him (at least while I'm around) and don't whine when they get put in a group with him. But I can't make the other kids be friends with him. I just can't.
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Old 02-01-2013, 06:43 AM
BaynJess BaynJess is offline
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 14
NSW Australia
ECT/Primary Education
DrivingPigeon - Sorry I guess with some of your wording in your original message I wasn't sure if you might have realised these boys could be on the spectrum or have a type of social disorder. Glad you cleared that up though Have you had an opportunity to meet the boys parents? For the child with possible Aspergers role playing can be another great way of indirectly teaching him new skills and allows the class to be involed. Setting up "what if" and "how could you help" scenarios will allow you to see if he can view things from another persons point of view or position.

Lucybelle - it's hard, you are right you can't make the other kids be friends with him and it sounds like you have managed to stop some of the bullying. Does he have a talent or special ability? That would allow him to may be actually some of the other kids in the class? If you could set him up in a small group where he can share his ability and then help guide him during that group time. Probably pre-warn him, make it out that you would like his help and work out a set of guidelines with him before the activity. I guess this all depends in his age and subject but basically these kids need lots of help in learning how to socially interact with others.
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Old 02-01-2013, 07:33 AM
Curiouscat Curiouscat is offline
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 439
I have five students in my second grade class that are on the spectrum. We do have a social skills group that meets once a week. They practice/role play various social situations. A paper is sent home to the parents so they can practice at home.
I do remind them to look at their peers when they aren't sure what is appropriate. The crawling on the floor was an issue at the beginning of the year with two of the students. After repeatedly having them stop and look at their peers the behavior stopped.
I do point out to them when their behavior is pushing people away from them. I do it privately and with kindness. I also spend time talking with the class about how we are all unique and we need to appreciate each persons' quirkiness.
I say contact the parents. They may not be aware of the behavior or see how the behavior is causing a problem. Remember, in many ways, we are teaching the parents too!
Can you sit the student by one other student that can be a good role model and tolerate the child? You said they are in pods which leads me to believe they are in groups of 4-6. Maybe a group of two would be less stimulating?
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Old 02-01-2013, 02:55 PM
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pwhatley pwhatley is offline
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 5,085
3rd Grade Teacher
Perhaps your entire class could role play "friend appropriate" behavior. My nephew has been diagnosed with Asperger's, and he has a difficult time making friends. It's better now than in the past (he's in 8th grade), but he's still "different" at a stage when most kids want to all be the same.

You could also start a "want a friend, be a friend" movement in your class, similar to the fill the bucket system. When a student does something especially friend-worthy, make sure it is noted. Just random thoughts.

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.
― Dr. Seuss
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Old 02-01-2013, 08:44 PM
juli233 juli233 is offline
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 107
Yukon Canada
Teaching Assistant
first of all I feel for you. This is difficult. I have a kid who also NEVER stops making noise, even small noises I don't know that I have yet seem him quiet once this year and yes it bother the other kids which make it hard to be friends with him.
that said have you used Michelle Garcia Winner's books or programs? Superflex? I find it works for a lot of kids, it gives them the visual aids to identify their feelings and behaviors, it also gives you a common language of expected and unexpected behavior. For example you can explain that the unexpected behavior like crawling around on the floor makes the other kids feel uncomfortable because it is not what they expect(the social norm) Just a thought HTH
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Old 02-02-2013, 06:25 AM
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KinderCowgirl KinderCowgirl is offline
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 4,915
Kindergarten Teacher
I don't have an answer for you either but we run into this a lot with GT kids too-maybe there are some resources on Hoagies about strategies. Sometimes they are just so awkward the other kids don't know how to relate to them and they don't really know how to relate to others. I had a student one year that I tried everything with-the kids would offer to play with her, she just preferred to be alone.

I understand too dreading that conversation with the parents. We actually have an objective on our report card that says "makes meaningful friends" and it's so hard to say "no, actually, they don't".
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