Thursday, October 4, 2012

Socialization and Inclusion

Which brings me to a topic that has baffled me plagued me given me sleepless nights and sometimes nightmares that's right I AM TALKING ABOUT SOCIALIZATION AND SOCIAL SKILLS!

I would love love *love* your view of what I've been told repeatedly in the past: social skills are critical for our children, social skills improve their speech, being with peers is how our kids imitate typical kids (earning their "pass" privilege I suppose).

I'll be honest, I come from an era (and also not of this culture, originally) where we didn't do play-dates. We didn't have preschool. My mom wasn't even sure she wanted me in kindergarten if I could start 1st grade, and primarily for academic reasons -- NOT for social skills.

My argument is, "why should I care if socialization comes from adults versus peers (kids my kid's age)? After all, adults have better social skills than kids -- it makes sense to me to have my child interact more with adults if this is where he's comfortable and he will learn social skills from people who have learned social skills. What's wrong with waiting until my kid's peers are beyond the age where they solve problems with physical action and change their moods 25 times in 15 minutes a.k.a unpredictable preschoolers?"

I don't get it. Please help me -- my brain is just not clicking on the benefits of socialization for very young children when it can be so stressful for those children.


This is a complex, difficult topic, and also pivotal and super important.  My overall views on it will come from two or three places or ways of thinking as I explore it here, but I will also include within my views a belief that in particular circumstances my specific opinions do change from the overall.  Some people might think this is wishy washy or unhelpful, but I think it is more helpful to be very precise about these things instead of having some sort of rule made up that is supposed to work for everyone, because that is not usually the way things work best in real life.

If, when you are reading this post, you believe your child is more like the counterexamples I am writing less about or mentioning as exceptions to my usual idea, and would like to hear more about that, please say so in the comments, because I will have amazing resources for you.

In my personal experience, which is going to be my first way of thinking to derive ideas from, I am very glad I learned from peers, even though a lot of the time I considered them to be noisy and baffling.  And a lot of them were randomly mean.  Not even just to me, I'm saying random.  Especially girls of a certain age.  I don't know if the reader will remember this.  You can read my view of it in the chapter coming out in Phil Smith's book Both Sides of the Table. 

But I learn a lot from pattern recognition, or trying to recognize patterns.  And if a pattern is kind of random, it takes longer.  So much about culture and enculturation and tribes and cliques and mob mentality and what makes people tick and who I am not and cannot be, I learned from being around a wide variety of people my age.  So much of what I know today that enables me to survive and thrive in real life is information of this very nature, and although I have read a lot about it and deliberately studied, my foundational learning about being able to recognize these things in life and put them to use in practical ways absolutely came from the brute fact of being put into situation after situation where I had to figure out how to be in the world with a wide variety of other children.

It was very valuable to have my parents and other supportive relatives and adult friends of the family around to explain things to me, to demystify them, to be on my side when things were unfair, illogical, unfathomable.  It was very affirming to have them around to be interested and maybe even kind of proud when I went on and on about whatever it was that had nothing to do with what anyone else I knew would be interested in.  Or, on the other side of myself, when I said something that made no sense to anyone whatsoever and they decided to interpret it as "poetic" and "creative," as loving adults are wont to do.

Now I am an adult person living in real life and I have to ask the reader: do you think the environments I typically find myself in, such as work (all due respect to my colleagues, you are awesome) with its arcane political structures and customs, the grocery store, the dry cleaner, the road, etc. have more in common with (a) mystifying sets of people thrown together doing their thing or (b) a tight community of people who are basically kind of focusing together like a benevolent team with the apparent primary purpose of making my life as awesome and seamless as possible?

Right.  So you see where I am going with that.  Well, or where I went, really.  So, having both was perfect, because I got hands on experience with what real life was going to be like, but then I got to go home and have supportive wonderful people on my side to debrief with about it.  (Life is still like that, because I married well, and we do that for each other.)

From a more theoretical child development standpoint, autism is considered a developmental disability, which actually makes a lot of sense to me when translated into the old idiom "late bloomer."  For me, the late bloomer-ism was social/emotional and my academic was OK, but from others, the sensory also blocks academic (the way I see it... I feel like the sensory is what blocks most of the development because whenever I get more hazy at things it is because of that bombardment, and also when I look at others who are shutting down or melting down I can see them clearly as experiencing overload.  Remember that so many of us experience emotions like a physical sense instead of like a cognitive thought.  We get sick or pained rather than confusing "I think" and "I feel."  I should probably write a separate article about this since I have had so many conversations with friends about it.  But anyway...)

So: it's to do with development.  Piaget thinks development goes like this: you get ready, and then you can do things.  Vygotsky thinks it is more like you learn by doing; doing flexes your readiness muscles into their potential.  That is an oversimplified comparison, because I love doing oversimplified comparisons, but you see what I mean.  Vygotsky, whose team I'm on, also believes learning is social.  I recommend reading some of this stuff, or starting with Joan Wink and LeAnn Putney's A Vision of Vygotsky for a fun, well illustrated intro.  Because of my own life experience, as well as my experience as a teacher, I also think learning is social, and you don't just magically get ready for stuff: you have to practice.

Back to my life: school didn't get a chance to help me much academically, because I come from a family of intellectually curious people who fluently answered my questions and read to me until they'd saved up enough for an Encyclopaedia Britannica, at which time they added "you can look that up!" to their repertoire of awesome intellectual support (which also gave me countless hours of cross-referencing derailment fun).  But it was at school where I learned to find the kids that were nice to me, and the primary way of it was to find the ones with whom I had interests in common, and try to see if I could get interested in as many of the things they introduced as possible.  What many of us really had in common that I could wholeheartedly endorse was Baseball.  (More details in Phil's book.  I am not a bookseller, I just don't want to give the whole chapter away in this blog and then everyone will be bored by it when reading the book.)  School was brilliant at helping me socially.  I learned some discernment, and some adjustment, and some communication.  

I also got some desensitization.  These lessons came over and over again and some of them came at great cost, especially during middle school time when the girls get meaner and the rules harder to work out.  In high school, I couldn't take it any more, was kicked out, and moved to an alternative school situation.  Desensitization was happening at a slower rate than introduction of stressor stimuli, as they would put it in terms-like-that.  I put it in terms like that because I think part of what is good about going to school even though it can be on the nightmarish side is because it toughens you up for real life, which, I mean, not that life sucks or anything, but you have to notice it is full of loud, awkward sounds, headachy smells, social rules that are barely short of Byzantine, and why-would-you-even-create-such-painful-ugliness lighting situations, some of which include gratuitous nasty sound effects.  Well, I mean, you the reader probably didn't notice all of that, because you have special powers enabling you to ignore such stuff, and now that I have pointed it out to you, you might have to notice some of it, thereby making your life have some more annoying features.  Sorry.  Forget I said anything.  :)  

This brings me to the counterexample.  For most kids, I really do believe it is a good idea to be exposed to one another.  I believe in an inclusive world.  However, the thing about desensitization is that there has to be enough good mixed in with it to make it worth it so you don't completely shut down or melt down.  It can't be a complete and utter nightmare where you can't get anything out of it.  If that is what is it like, then you are indeed not being exposed to other kids, you are protecting yourself from any exposure to anything, because you are so bombarded and freaked out, which is the opposite of what is supposed to happen.  If I am talking about your kid, I would start smaller, like yes to the play dates, one or two kids, and some people need to organize their own educational situations in order to do this.  Also, you can increase the number of friends if and when needed, and you can pick friends who have features you want, such as a non screechy voice, an even temper, patience, an exhaustive knowledge of seventeenth century metaphysical poetry (well, or you know, something that kid and your kid can relate about).  So in some ways some people might be doing this to get their kid desensitized enough to benefit from school next year.  Alternatively, some people might live in a place where they don't trust the school system, or had a bad enough experience, or for some other reason they will continue to organize their own situation for the kids.  I still think and believe people who do this well are not isolating the children or having them only socialize with adults.  I know someone who does it very well, which is no easy task, and I will ask her to weigh in here on the comments if she feels like it, but I don't want to call her out by name in case she does not feel like it.

If she does not weigh in on the comments and you the readers feel like this is your kid and you need to hear more about that aspect of things (unschooling) let me know and I will go get her and sweet-talk her into feeling like it :).

If you think your kid might be more like me and benefit from school for social reasons even though it is difficult, but you want more information on how to get started on making it a benefit instead of a giant nightmare, from the parental standpoint, let me know and I will ask my mother.  I do remember coming home from school a lot with problems with mean girls or things like that.  I even remember their names (I wonder if Eric secretly remembers the names of the jackwagons whose names he decides not to utter?).  I do not remember my parents' perspective on how they made it all better because I never knew it, but you may be interested in knowing it, and actually so am I.  :)  Let me know what will work for you.  I'll just end by saying they did make it all better many times and from my perspective a lot of it had to do with Baseball.  They did a lot.  You do a lot.  I salute you.

Yours socially, 
Ib

34 comments:

  1. Interesting question. I'm trying to think like the LW, but I can't get away from a sense of the importance of safe interaction with peers. Ibby's response is great.

    I would add that your child might yearn for contact with peers long before adulthood -- maybe in the teen years, when (I gather) many autistic people start to feel isolated, and perceive the gap between their social wants and their social abilities and comfort. Ideally, social contact throughout helps keep that gap narrower than it might otherwise be.

    Presumably these issues are behind the Least Restrictive Environment (inclusion) principle.

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    1. You are quite right, when LRE is taken to mean inclusion (which of course in my dream world, it is, unless the family objects). Thanks for being here, Lucy! Ib

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  2. Ugh.... (that's the sound of myths debunking in my brain, and also the feeling I'm going to get when I tell my spouse about this post and he says, "That's what I told you!!!!!!! Remember what I told you?!" to which I'll say, "yes OK you were right, yep."

    Ibby, you've given me that "bridge" I needed, maybe permission in a way, that I needed to "be OK with socializing" my kid.

    If I were to be as objective as I need to be as mom, balancing my fierce desire to protect my child and my obligation to give my child the opportunity to learn and grow in spite of the difficulties he may experience....

    Then what you said here:

    "Right. So you see where I am going with that. Well, or where I went, really. So, having both was perfect, because I got hands on experience with what real life was going to be like, but then I got to go home and have supportive wonderful people on my side to debrief with about it."

    -- This is where my kid is.

    He appears to enjoy interactions with others, right now more with adults because that's who he is used to, but I can see him becoming more interested in interacting with peers. It is still tough for him, but I see him beginning to care about his classmates (and now we have to change preschool, long story and one I won't go into here).

    He needs the practice.

    In my child's case, then, socialization in the form of preschool will be useful for him, because he needs that in vivo environment to learn patterns and decipher what these patterns mean and then learn how to respond to these patterns.

    I am grateful to you for your insight and particularly personal experience. I'm getting that book if only to read your chapter!

    Thank you so much Ibby, thank you.

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    1. Hi Ibby,

      Continuing the above... Yes I would love to hear from your mom's perspective. I'm not autistic but am a very late social bloomer and was very introverted when I was young and had no great attraction beyond curiosity in presence of other children. Even at kindergarten age I could stand to have only one friend and that was already too much work for me. (I've improved, I can handle maybe 2.5 friendships at any given time)

      When I look at my child, though, I wonder if maybe my original native state was more similar to his, only my cultural conditioning of seen not heard had shut this down and I began to believe that my conditioned self was my native self. My child is vibrant and joyful, in a strange way his presence feels like a reminder of parts of myself that I did not think was me.

      I say this because this is the context through which I use to assess socialization. Just because I believe rightly or wrongly that I had little or no use for it, does not mean my child will think the same way. And connecting with peers have boosted my creativity, for example I can see what I am sharing as the beginning of another one of the many letters I have written to my child and it was by asking you a question then dialog that allowed this to emerge.

      I see the greates joy from my child when he is expressing himself in his various forms (not just verbally, which actually has been the most challenging mode for self expression for him compared to other creative communication) with people. I can see that he may learn and extend this to peers, but he needs to learn their language in all it's complex contradictory forms. But it will be a worthwhile pursuit, if he has a bit of my streak of being inspired by others' creativity and words more readily than on my own. Then it means he needs to be out there, exposed to noise, trusting that the game of odds will improve toward a signal (to use that biggest lie ever told letter I'd written to him before).

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    2. iPad corrected its as it's in my above comment and it is a pet peeve. That disturbed me more than my inability for some reason to correct the spelling of greatest.....

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    3. You are so welcome Jane, and I thank you!

      Have to ask though--can't--stop--myself--Is your half-a-friend more like a frenemy where the other half is a foe, or a friendly acquaintance, where the other half is a stranger, or some other formation of a .5 friendship?

      :) Ib

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    4. And I will try to get a guest interview segment for this blog from my awesome Mom when I have enough questions lined up for her :) Hi Mom! xxoo

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    5. Ah -- thank you for asking!

      I'd say "friendly acquaintance" because the potential may be there to develop a deeper friendship, but the time needed to manifest is not there or at least not there right now.

      Now I'm thinking, it looks a bit like this: (using an arbitrary "friendship coefficient") --

      1.00Friend
      0.75Friend
      0.75Friend
      ------------
      2.50Friends

      It is not easy to be friends with me haha.

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    6. Hehe, I kind of love arbitrary friendship coefficients. Now just make sure they don't read this and ask you which one they are!

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    7. I wouldn't tell them, but I'll say this, the one I think of who has the "1" is the person we named as guardian for our child should something happen to both of us!

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  3. Hi, Ibby. This is a topic I have a lot of thoughts on! I'd like to share my thoughts and apologize in advance for the disorganized and not eloquent way I present them. It takes me weeks to make my writing sound good and I'd rather respond to the blog now than in 12 wks, lol. I'm going to number my thoughts in the hopes of making them easier to follow.
    1. I'm a 40 yr old aspie who went to school until age 32 (graduate school) and in my experience the educational setting did NOT prepare me for real life at all. Things in school are a lot more structured, less demanding, and more predictable than the real world. And I went to public school all the way, so don't think I'm talking some posh prep school with a class size of five! I excelled academically and did alright socially, yet once outside of the school/university setting I have no friends and have been fired from about a dozen jobs. Not to mention the fact that I can't drive a car and have failed my road test seven times!
    2. Many public school systems are utter cesspools nowadays, which factors into the decision of many parents to homeschool, as it does mine. My district has no program geared towards kids with autism and often labels them "mentally retarded" (their words, not mine). In addition, several administrators have recently been fired and/or brought on criminal charges as part of an ongoing corruption investigation. Hence, I don't beleive enrolling my son into that environment is a good option right now.
    3. It is very difficult for me to find kids to have playdates with my son because I have no friends myself. Also, I find most people are not dying to have their child play with a "disabled" child. I don't think I"m alone in that experience, unfortunately.
    4. So, right now not sure about the "socialization." My son does get out and about (park, zoo, mall, sensory friendly movie showings, etc) and is around other kids, although not "friends" with them. He has cousins around his age that he sees once in awhile and who spend the whole visit avoiding him and asking "What's he doing?" regarding his various repetitive behaviors. We're looking into special needs swim classes and he did recently have his first playdate with a girl more severely disabled than himself, so I guess no "modeling" opportunities there. Sigh. Don't know if I'm hopelessly off track...

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    1. So, ack, cesspools and corruption... No kid needs to be exposed to *that* much realness at an early age! This is a good example of the exception both because of that and also with school not being useful to you, I suspect you also wouldn't feel comfortable answering questions about the weirdness in it, so the demystification part would also not even be there.

      I don't know if you really had any questions, like, do you want to be able to give your kid a little more in the way of potential friend exposure? Also yourself, you said you don't have friends, but would you rather? Not mass quantities, but knowing some good people to relate to and count on each other?

      I have some friends with blogs whose writing might especially interest you if you do have questions such as unschooling tips, being an Aspie with kids on the spectrum, things like that. If you want to be put in touch let me know.

      Otherwise if you were just showing the readers a perfect example of a situation where school is not a good choice, thanks for writing, because that right there with the criminal investigation and all of that is a definite example of yikes.

      Thanks Rosanna!
      Ib

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    2. I'm going in a different angle using Rosanna's comment about her child not having "friends" but I think this is related to socialization at large.

      Maybe I'm very anal-retentive about definitions, but I have an issue with adults naming relationships for their children. I see this happen a lot. Peers are automatically labeled "friends" by adults when they are nothing like the sort, as in, "be nice and share toys with your friends!" (I take issue with the word "share", another rant for another day) I've heard this in a classroom setting as well.

      My child's peers in class are not my child's "friends" -- they are his classmates.

      Children who play with my child are accurately described as "playmates".

      My definition of "friend" is a conscious decision and is appropriate when a child is older, understands what a friendship may entail (he should define this for himself, however), and then act on his definition to choose people who have earned his friendship.

      I also agree that it is unproductive to place a child in a very negative environment in the name of socialization!

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    3. Totally agree, hence "potential friend exposure." Some adults seem to think all kids are friends. No way. But I had friends when I was little who were friends, and there were little mean people hanging around trying to use me for whatever -- just like real life. My sons are tiny right now but I know I won't be wanting to put them into any cesspools of corruption! If however the environment is the usual as in having just some negative people and aspects I think they should have access and I will always be there to explain things and listen and have their back and provide any guidance I can.

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    4. Hi again, Ibby. Thanks for your patience with my rambling. Yes, I probably would like a one or two real friends and a bit more social exposure for my son. I'm just not sure what else to do besides what I'm already doing. And like I said, my school district is a cesspool, so I really don't want to go that route--I recently bumped into an acquaintance at Wal-mart who said she is pulling her daughter out of school b/c she came home soaked in urine from head to toe!

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  4. Yeesh yeah that sounds pretty cesspoolish! I'm going to try and get my friend to come over here.

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  5. Yay! Brenda is coming! Rosanna, this is Brenda; Brenda, Rosanna.

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    1. I already "know" Brenda from her blog, lol. But of course very glad for her input!

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    2. Do you "know" the writer of AS Parenting? Her kids do go to school but it takes a lot if work and advocacy... However a reason Melody might be really relatable is that she is also Autistic herself while being a mom. Maybe check it out or let me know if you have already been there?

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  6. *phew* Okay, sorry I'm late. The traffic was horrific. ;)

    What an interesting discussion you've had on socialization and school! I do appreciate your sharing your experiences, Ibby. Very interesting.

    I don't know if this is Rosanna I know from my blog, but if it is Good to see you!

    I wrote about socialization recently in case you haven't read it: http://mamabegood.blogspot.com/2012/09/social-skills-and-autism-3-steps.html

    There are different ways of making relationships and for my child, he would not have been doing that in school. He would have gone under. So unschooling it is! Some ways we have of meeting a variety of people:

    Hire college-age and high school sitters. These guys and gals have been Jack's best friends. Some have only been with him for a season, others for years. He remembers every single one. Their job and their only job is to play with him. He adores them. His best friend is a 26-year-old guy who hasn't forgotten how to be a kid. Jack even went to his wedding. This is a friend Jack will never forget.

    Teen or younger family members, like cousins, siblings. I usually have to play with them, too. Do something they like and something your child likes. Your child is still forming relationships even if you're there.

    Exploring things that Jack likes. We know all the people at the bowling alley. The employees especially. We know all the people at the horse barn. I've taken brownies to the garage door factory.

    Join a local homeschooling group. Find neighbors to hang out with. Let your child just observe. I don't believe it's necessary to shoehorn them in to a group, just because.

    I believe the foundation of what we call "socialization" is really just forming relationships. And I think that translates across the board to all age ranges. For me, personally, I don't believe it *has* to be with peer-age or that my son's missing out on something because he prefers older friends. He's able to connect with people and form relationships. That's what matters.

    Did I answer anyone's questions?

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    1. P.S. The sitters come to our home while I'm here. And tha's when I write. ;) Those sitters have become my friends, too. So it's a win/win.

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    2. Thanks Brenda! I also had older-kid friends not from school and that was great because they did have patience but not, you know, that parental totally on your team no matter what thing that makes practicing hanging out with parents count differently if you see what I mean. So glad you came because I forgot about that. It's not the age so much as the type of practice. And making sure it is not too much so you melt down and get nothing out of it (I'm looking at you, non-alternative high school.)

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    3. Thanks Brenda. Yes I am the same Rosanna who posts on your blog and comments on your FB page, lol. I appreciate your input and I agree with what you're saying about forming relationships being the important thing, not necessarily "peer relationships." Because in real life, most people we associate with are not our exact same age, right? LOL. It can be hard though b/c we are constantly being told the opposite. For example, my son recently had his first 1:1 playdate. It was with a girl several yrs older than himself and with more severe disabilities. The hour at the park went well, but when I mentioned it to one of my in-laws, this person said my son should be playing with someone his own age and who is typical so that he can "learn how to act normal." Sigh.

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    4. Me again, from my perspective, your in laws did not know what they were talking about. The end goal isn't to "act normal" it is to have a good life. Are your in laws the exact age of each other? Serious advice time right here: save up your ears for people who have a reason to know what they are talking about. If other people feel like having random opinions, OK, free country, but you don't have to give it free rent in your brain and let it bring you down. People talk a lot. Take what you need and leave the rest sitting there for someone else to buy if they want it. /end rant

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  7. I guess another point I was getting at is I don't think public school is necessarily good preparation for the real world. In my own case, I did well in school, but find the real world overwhelming. School really is a lot more structured and predictable, and it takes a lot less to get by, IMO. For instance, I was often teacher's pet because I would talk on and on and keep the class discussion going. The teacher didn't care that I was rambling b/c that was better than a room full of silence and blank stares. However, my ramblings didn't go over too well in workplace meetings, lol.

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    1. LOL! I love that. Maybe it depends on the school and what you are doing to survive in it. And what you can do to survive in a place depends on you, what you are like.

      So it sounds like if you are too good at school, it is not good prep for life (not talking academics) but if you find it baffling and alien, it is a pretty good intro to life. That actually makes sense to me because it sounds like you had "school" all worked out and got nothing more out of it, then life being less structured slammed you; whereas I thought the structure of school was a wriggling slimy thing I had to stay vigilant about, so when I see life being like that I am all, "Argh, middle school scenario."

      I guess the moral of the story is that we are all different and what constitutes good exercise for us will vary in the details...

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    2. EXACTLY! So glad that makes sense to someone, lol. Thanks Ibby. And of course you're right about my ILS and other such individuals making random hurtful comments. Still working on that thick skin here.

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    3. What I try to do when someone makes ignorant comments is think of them as unknowing and reflecting poorly on the speaker's knowledge level rather than hurtful to me in particular because that is closer to the true meaning of ignorant. If I feel like educating them maybe I will get around to it but really it is not about me, it is about their lack of knowledge.

      So this is hard to imagine but here is an example. Usually ignorant hurtful comments are about your business, like, "I don't understand why you are making such a big deal about [this thing that will cause you super trauma but I haven't bothered to ask you that in a respectful conversation-- or worse yet, you already told me but I forgot because I wasn't listening-- so I will make dismissive comments instead." And that is why they hurt. But what I do to thicken my skin is just substitute in my mind that they are making the same level of ignorant comment about something that is neutral to me, as in, "I don't understand why the cold and the flu and allergies are three different things, I mean, they all make your nose run, am I right?" Because that just sounds ignorant and you are like, dang, that was not a good idea to say out loud, it did not reflect well on the speaker at all, and that is who should be embarrassed. But I do not take it personally, because I do not feel it is personal. So for me, I try to put all misinformed ignorant comments in the second boat and, in my head, separate them from myself. They are nothing to do with me unless I am in the mood to be an educationally helpful person out of the pure goodness of my heart. Otherwise, the person can feel free to go around spouting off at the mouth making his or herself look unaware of the situation all day long and it's not on me. Does that make sense? Doesn't work all the time but it does enough that it has removed a LOT of stress from my life. Ib

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    4. Now the above regards a coping strategy I use for people who are being slow-torture ignorami in my personal life-- but when it gets public and I see too many people saying the same type of wrongness then I will write a blog post about it like the one about Eric, because, you know, there is a tipping point, and there are limits. Sometimes it gets community-personal, and only so much ignorance can be tolerated in a just society. OK thanks for letting me share. Ib

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    5. LOL. I will try the substituting thing. Kind of like imagining people in their underwear to take some of the pressure off yourself.

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  8. Ibby I think this is brilliant!

    "But what I do to thicken my skin is just substitute in my mind that they are making the same level of ignorant comment about something that is neutral to me, as in, "I don't understand why the cold and the flu and allergies are three different things, I mean, they all make your nose run, am I right?""

    I'm going to try this, I hope, later versus sooner ;)

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  9. We opted to home educate our son at the age of 6. I agree, it is important to understand the child and act accordingly. We bucked the system - home education is not at all popular and battled with the school district and insurance companies to a horrible end for my family.

    In our home education time, we potty trained our son w/n 6 mos of bringing him home, he began to read within a year and a half and began speaking in full sentences. I can't emphasize enough the importance of a balance of sensory integration, physical exertion, and intellectual curiosity to fly free as well as shore up any learning difficulties - throughout the entire day - social outings are key.

    I hope and believe, we have provided our son with a good start, a ton of self confidence and a huge curiosity to be around others. We put him in social situations we believe he can handle - some are a sensory nightmare and some are more controlled. Over time, I hope we will be able to move forward with the intensive program he so thrived on - if we can get our finances back on track after the city we live in took out after us for advocating for our kiddo. I believe he can only fly further from here....he's not quite 13.

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  10. Rock on!! It sounds like you and he are doing GREAT! I was worried when I read the horrible end but it sounds like you took the horrible and kind of gave it the finger.

    Tell me more?

    Ib

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