PERSONAL AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
A key characteristic of those on the autism spectrum is their difficulty in understanding the social behaviour of others and what is socially acceptable behaviour. Other children develop this understanding without being explicitly taught but children on the autism spectrum are generally very literal thinkers and interpreters of language, failing to understand its social context. They also have difficulty with non-verbal communication, not understanding the meaning of common gestures and facial expressions. This affects their ability to interact with others.
However, with appropriate teaching and support many individuals on the autism spectrum will improve their social understanding. Social skills and social situations need to be broken down, explained, and practised so that those on the autism spectrum can absorb them at a level that makes sense to them.
Personal development in our training programme is the means by which all ASD individuals are supported in their spiritual, moral, physical, emotional, cultural and intellectual development according to their needs. We propose an effective curriculum that supports personal development contributing to the following outcomes:
enjoy and achieve
make a positive contribution
achieve economic wellbeing.
PUBLIC SERVICE AND REALIZATION OF EVENTS
Social Development and Learning how to get along with others
Encouraging ASD individuals personal and social development is a priority for our
training programme. It is an important set of skills needed to:
Understand what is expected behaviour in different situations;
Make sense of how and why others behave towards them in the way they do;
Support growing independence;
Deal with any possible bullying by others.
There are a number of qualities and skills that are needed to successfully relate socially to others, including:
Empathy – to be able to feel the change in mood of other people;
Good communication and listening skills;
Timing – eg starting up a conversation, closing one down;
Awareness of the rights of others;
That everyone is different and might hold different views of their own.
Understanding social behaviours across different situations and then adjusting how we behave depends on:
Cognitive development (intelligence);
Moral understanding of what is right and wrong;
Interpretation of motive or reason for the behaviour;
Ability to understand that being different or special is OK
Difficulty in “reading” social cues in terms of body language, verbal and non-verbal cues, difficulty in recognising the unwritten rules in their community
Limited awareness of the needs and rights of others, especially where there is conflict with their own
Sometimes a tendency towards a range of sensitivities and fixed ideas that might make them seem “at odds” with their peers
Problems in the more subtle elements of communication – the use of humour, sarcasm, ambiguous language
For some, an ability to be self-contained, to be less needy of social contact with others for feeling satisfied, self-content, comfortable in their own familiar setting.
Dislike of sudden and unplanned change and novelty, distressed by the unexpected, rigid.
Seeing their own personal needs as a first priority and difficulty in adjusting to other people’s agendas, taking account of what interests them.
Emotionally “flat” unless talking about own interests, poor or inappropriate support available, at risk of bully for the insensitivity.
Goals of this training
Purposes of this programme, include helping ASD clients by:
-facilitating their personal development;
-exploring key issues with them in more depth;
-allowing them to practise new skills in an environment in which they feel safe, can take risks and learn more about themselves;
-developing their ways of relating to others;
-help teach supports, skills and coping mechanisms for future independence
The social and emotional aspects of learning (SEAL)
Various terms are used internationally to describe social and emotional aspects of learning,
including personal and social development, emotional literacy, emotional intelligence,
and social and emotional competence and social, emotional and behavioural skills.
It is helpful to consider five broad social and emotional aspects of learning:
2. managing feelings
5. social skills
A range of teaching strategies will be used to motivate both those who learn primarily through verbal channels and those whose preferred learning style may be more visual or kinaesthetic. Much of the learning will necessarily take place through experiential activities, as developing social, emotional and behavioural skills involves engaging the heart as well as the head. Many of the suggested learning opportunities are exploratory and open-ended to reflect the nature of much of the subject matter. Individuals who take part of this programme are encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning, and to enquire together to ensure that they reach a deeper and more meaningful understanding of the complex issues involved in developing social, emotional and behavioural skills.
Self-awareness enables children to have some understanding of themselves. They know how they learn, how they relate to others, what they are thinking and what they are feeling. They use this understanding to organise themselves and plan their learning.
•I know when and how I learn most effectively.
•I can take responsibility for my actions and learning.
•I feel good about the things I do well, and accept myself for who and what I am.
•I can recognise when I find something hard to achieve.
Understanding my feelings
•I can identify, recognise and express a range of feelings.
•I know that feelings, thoughts and behaviour are linked.
•I can recognise when I am becoming overwhelmed by my feelings.
•I know that it is OK to have any feeling, but not OK to behave in any way I feel like.
In managing feelings, children use a range of strategies to recognise and accept their feelings. They can use this to regulate their learning and behaviour – for example managing anxiety or anger, or demonstrating resilience in the face of difficulty.
Managing how I express my feelings
•I can stop and think before acting.
•I can express a range of feelings in ways that do not hurt myself or other people.
•I understand that the way I express my feelings can change the way other people feel.
•I can adapt the way I express my feelings to suit particular situations or people.
Managing the way I am feeling
•I can calm myself down when I choose to.
•I have a range of strategies for managing my worries and other uncomfortable feelings.
•I have a range of strategies for managing my anger.
•I understand that changing the way I think about people and events changes the way I feel
•I can change the way I feel by reflecting on my experiences and reviewing the way I think
•I know that I can seek support from other people when I feel angry, worried or sad.
•I know what makes me feel good and know how to enhance these comfortable feelings.
Motivation enables learners to take an active and enthusiastic part in learning. Intrinsically motivated learners recognise and derive pleasure from learning. Motivation enables learners to set themselves goals and work towards them, to focus and concentrate on learning, to persist when learning is difficult and to develop independence, resourcefulness and personal organisation.
Setting goals and planning to meet them
•I can set a challenge or goal, thinking ahead and considering the consequences
for othersand myself.
•I can break a long-term plan into smaller achievable steps, plan to overcome
obstacles, set success
criteria and celebrate when I achieve them.
Persistence and resilience
•I can choose when and where to direct my attention, concentrate and
resist distractions for increasing periods of time.
•I know and can overcome some barriers to my learning such as feelings
of boredom and frustration and know when to keep trying or try something different.
•I can bounce back after a disappointment or when I have made a mistake or been
Evaluation and review
•I know how to evaluate my learning and use this to improve future performance.
Being able to empathise involves understanding others; anticipating and predicting theirlikely thoughts, feelings and perceptions. It involves seeing things from another’s point of view and modifying one’s own response, if appropriate, in the light of this understanding.
Understanding the feelings of others
•I can recognise the feelings of others.
•I know that all people have feelings but understand that they might experience and showtheir feelings in different ways or in different circumstances.
•I can understand another person’s point of view and understand how they might be feeling.
Valuing and supporting others
•I value and respect the thoughts, feelings, beliefs and values of other people.
•I can be supportive to others and try to help them when they want it.
•I know that my actions affect other people and can make them feel better or worse
Social skills enable children to relate to others, take an active part in a group, communicate with different audiences, negotiate, resolve differences and support the learning of others.
Belonging to a community
•I feel that I belong to and am valued in my class, school and community.
•I understand and accept my rights and responsibilities in school, and know how I can take responsibility for making the school a safe and fair place for everyone.
Friendships and other relationships
•I know how to be friendly – I can look and sound friendly, be a good listener, give and receive compliments and do kind things for other people.
•I recognise ‘put-downs’ and know how they affect people, so I try not to use them.
•I can make, sustain and break friendships without hurting others.
•I can work well in a group, cooperating with others to achieve a joint outcome.
•I can tell you what helps a group to work well together.
•I can resolve conflicts to ensure that everyone feels positive about the outcome.
Standing up for myself
•I can be assertive when appropriate.
Making wise choices
•I can solve problems by thinking of all the options, identifying advantages and disadvantages, choosing a solution and evaluating it later on.
•I can make a wise choice with work or behaviour.
Working in groups or within teams will pose problems for many people on the autism spectrum. Opportunities for personal and social development and the development of ‘life’ or independence skills will be available. As well as difficulty in communication, individuals on the autism spectrum often lack an understanding of the rules and conventions of team games, and may struggle to understand how to co-operate and interact with other people in order to achieve a group target.
We will be available to address any concerns at this level for our clients on the autism spectrum to give them support and mentoring throughout the entire process. We aim to foster positive relationships between our clients and their peers through types of group support such as circle time, buddy schemes and lunchtime clubs as well as organising cultural events where they will be able to share and learn from each other's interests.
The implications for children with Asperger Syndrome
Even though many children and young people with Asperger Syndrome have good levels of intellectual ability and sometimes a well developed specialist interests/knowledge base, social and interpersonal skills are frequently an area of considerable tension and confusion. In large part, these difficulties are the result of having Asperger Syndrome. Difficulties experienced in dealing with social interaction reflect the specific characteristics of the condition – impairment of social communication, social relations and social imagination:
> Project presentations
> Movie projections/colloquium
> Language exchanges
> Creative group activities
> Board Games
> Sharing hobbies and interests
> Creation of cultural events
> Meeting new people
The purpose of opening this public space is to allow cultural exchange and social interaction between Asperger individuals and typical people. This is an opportunity for Asperger individuals to have real time social exchanges with the world, by creating events that will attract all people interested in a cultural exchange and meeting new people. They may be involved in the creation of an event to talk about subjects of their interest, organising fun group activities, like games and art making and setting up meet ups to practise and learn languages as well as their social skills.
All of the following goals will be addressed:
Learn foreign languages or new ways of communicating
Strengthen problem-solving skills
Cultivate new interests
Make new friends from around the world
Grow more confident meeting new people
Become part of a community
¨Accepting diversity goes both ways. Some people with AS begin to think that people with Asperger´s are superior than typical people. They come to distrust the non-ASD population. This is discrimination too. If you want to be successful in this world, you must learn to accept your own flaws and acknowledge the strengths of others. Think of every encounter with a non autistic person as a cultural exchange, of ideas, rituals, norms, phrases, etc.¨-book: Asperger's on the Job, By Rudy Simone.