Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Social Interaction: SCARY

As a parent of an Asperger kid, you learn to take your victories when they come.

Last week, our son went to a scout meeting. He was there a bit early. Two other scouts were there early too, playing a round of Connect Four. The game ended and the champion wanted another opponent. He shouted to our son to come over and play.

Our son hesitated, of course. Social interaction. SCARY.

But with a little encouragement, he went over.

He’s played Connect Four before, of course. They launched into a game. And launched, awkwardly, herky-jerkily, into a social interaction that the other scout will likely never know how important is to our kid.

Our son started winning. “Wow, you’re good,” the other boy kept saying. And our son responded, nicely, thank heaven. The game went on, and with the click of the pieces, the social interaction went on.


Thanks, in part, to some primitive technology and another kid not scared to reach out to another kid to play a game.

So reading things like this, about a robot being used in England to help autistic children with social interaction, I have to think there’s ways to use technology to teach social interaction.

I’m contemplating singing our son up for Second Life so we can interact together in that virtual world (I already have an avatar, if it’s still active, which I created for a class based in Second Life I took through Utah State a few years ago). I’m hoping that perhaps by going through simple interactions in a virtual world, our son can learn how to translate that activity into the real world. At least we can use Second Life as a practice space, once he gets over the newness of the whole thing.

And this isn’t far off the mark. Our school psychologist says there’s computer software out there that helps such kids in virtual social situations – but of course the district can’t afford it. Second Life is free – albeit fraught with other dangers; we’ll keep close rein on him while he’s there.

We’ll see what happens.

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