Once a week Soren goes to Social Skills Group. The purpose of the group as a whole is for these boys to socially interact with each other, take turns, share, and make choices together.
For the past year it's been Soren and two other boys who are a little older than him. These two boys also have developmental disabilities, but overall are able to communicate much better than Soren. They can do some sign language, give verbal cues, and are both really good with assistive devices like iPads and DynaVox.
Soren was the third boy to come to this group. Because the other two boys knew each other, it took a little bit for Soren to find his groove. Soren can be a bit of a stinker and pretend to fall asleep when things aren't interesting. And the other boys made it a point to try and wake him up! Soon enough Soren stopped playing possum and started participating.
I brought Soren's iPad in so that he could "tell them" his Soren Update by touching the iPad and activate my pre-recorded voice. From what I've heard, this is one of Soren's favorite activities during SSG.
Now, juggling the needs of 3 disabled boys must be challenging for these two therapists. These boys can be pretty demanding. When the other parents and I return to class, I'm constantly impressed with the updates on what they did during their hour together.
Because of Winter Break, Soren had 2 weeks off from his Social Skills Group. And I think he was really missing it. 3 days before school started again, Soren started getting really cranky. As much as we tried to do fun stuff, I think he was missing his routine of school and seeing his friends.
Yesterday afternoon I got an email from Soren's teacher saying that Soren had a great day at school. He was alert and focused. I was really happy about this, but then feared he'd be exhausted for SSG. I kept briefing Soren, saying that we were going to go see his friends. And when I wheeled him in, Soren was bright-eyed and smiling.
And to my surprise, there was a new boy in the group. This boy had a huge smile and if Soren's in the right mood, he responds really well to this energy (much like all of us). I worried a bit for the therapists now trying to manage 4 boys, but I figured they'd come get us if there was a problem.
Well, when we came back, those boys were all in a great mood. Soren smiled and laughed through the entire session. The therapists noted that it was actually easier having this new boy in the mix. It's like he balanced the group out. And Soren took to him, so he's clearly a good egg!
On the way home, Soren chatted away in his "Soren Speak" and though I don't understand a word, I know he had a good time. Through Soren's visual cues, it was clear that he considers these boys his friends. He missed them when they were gone and was happy to see them again. And he got to add another friend to the group which clearly made his day.