Many parents feel disconnected from their Asperger’s/Autism spectrum child. What do Dad’s often see as the ultimate shared male pasttime? Why, sports of course.
And that’s where Sluis Academy founder and teacher Bill Sluis enters the scene. Sluis has developed and refined a proven method of teaching socialization through physical activity. A method that should help fathers bond with their sons and daughters as they teach them both social and physical skills related to games and team sports.
Sluis has had success using everything from a simple ball toss, to teaching autistic and special needs children baseball, golf and even shotput.
This high school teacher’s approach has been refined over a period of 35 years, and he has seen some amazing results. My daughter and I attended a presentation by Sluis tonight. As you may know, both my daughter and I, and her son have Asperger’s, and my daughter is also an Special Education Assistant in a high school. We were astounded at his knowledge of the issues.
In every case, Sluis understood the anxiety associated with sports. “Developing the skill level wasn’t sufficient,” he explained tonight. “Initiating into the game was another problem. Getting into the game and maintaining that.”
Speaking as an Aspie, it is wonderful to hear someone speak not only to the need to develop a child’s physical skills but also to assist him in negotiating the social anxiety associated with trying to integrate oneself into a team sport.
Initiating into the game is a process few Phys Ed teachers even consider putting on their curriculum. And yet, for children on the Autism spectrum, figuring out how to get invited into the game, and stay welcome throughout, is a huge source of anxiety.
Even if we have the physical skill set, how do we get what Bill Sluis calls “initiated” into the game, and how do we get people to want us to stay? We may have a great physical skills level but we need to show that in interaction with others. And that requires another skill set–also completely foreign to us.
This is where the Sluis method is perfect. It addresses both these anxiety sets, something few other methods do.
You will hear more about Bill Sluis and the Sluis Academy in future blogs.
The Sluis Academy is new, and it’s website is still under construction. But you can go to http://www.sluisacademy.com/ and see what help will soon be available.
Bill Sluis is available for presentations to teachers, parents and other groups who may be interested in his work.
As you can see from my last post, the issue of socializing is huge for Aspies. This is especially true in the late pre-teen and early teen years.
Arranging a social event with a friend isn’t always the answer if the child with Asperger’s has trouble communicating in a meaningful way. Just getting them together with a “neurotypical” teen in a social setting isn’t going to help. In fact, it can be disastrous.
Anna Matchneva from Burnaby BC works one on one with Asperger’s children, and this is what she suggested in a talk to parents last year.
First, limit the time for interaction to ‘safe’ time, that is time when the conversation will most likely be of mutual interest.
How do you do that?
Anna finds getting your teen Aspie to invite a friend for pizza and a movie is ideal.
First on the agenda is going to the movie. When they are driving to the movie, they can talk about what movie they want to see and all the things they have heard about the movie.
Other topics may come up, but the drive to the theatre should not be too long, and the parent driving them can always intervene a little if necessary.
Next, at the movie, the parent drops them off. The talk will be about arrangements to be picked up, how to buy the tickets and what snacks they want. This is very safe also.
Once in the theater, everything should be good. Although in my experience? The Aspie child may have to be warned to be quiet and not comment during the movie, but save all their comments for afterward.
The time from the end of the movie to pick up should be minimal, to ensure that the conversational requirements don’t tax the Aspie child.
Then to the pizza parlour. Again, conversation will center around the children’s preferences, and the movie action and how the children rate the movie.
After pizza, time for the guest to be dropped off at his/her home.
This kind of managed social time gives Aspie’s a sense of confidence which should ease both the child’s and the parent’s anxieties over social situations.