Superpowers, Friends, and Social Skills

Lego, Unspeakable on YouTube, Mr Beast on YouTube, extreme weather, and rollercoasters; these are all things that Mikey can talk about forever, and it’s awesome, but it can also be annoying, especially when you’re trying to make friends.

Today’s topic is about friends, your kiddo’s superpower, and social skills. Tune in to hear us discuss how friendship and socialization has changed since we were kids, and some of the different ways that our children’s social needs can be met. Learn how we have approached helping Mikey to navigate having a friend over through giving him a list of house rules. We introduce you to a number of amazing communities, websites, and resources we have benefitted from, including the Tilt Podcast, Koaster Kids, and Model Me Kids.

Heather shares what she has observed through working with special needs kids at church, and how zooming in to your child’s superpower provides an opportunity to teach them the social skills they need to connect with others. The ultimate goal is to enrich our kids’ lives, and we love to see how all these tools have made a difference for Mikey. Thanks for tuning in!

Read Full Transcript

Legos unspeakable on YouTube, Mr. Beast on YouTube extreme weather. Let's see what else have the rollercoasters like these are all things that Mikey can talk about. Forever. And that's awesome, but it can sometimes be annoying, especially when you're trying to make friends. So today is about friends, your superpowers, or your kiddos superpowers and social skills.

What's up, baby? Hello everybody. So Mikey has a superpower, Yes, he has many superpowers. And so many of our kids do. And that's what we're going to chat about today because those superpowers are pretty, pretty cool. His interests are awesome. But how many times have we seen Mr. Beast? Like the same Mr.

Beast video or a mark Rober? I love mark Roper on YouTube, but like enough of the elephant toothpaste explosions. You know what I mean? Like I'm done filling up your swimming pool with Orbeez Tru or buckets in there for. Yeah, he wants to do that. And I don't have 7 million Orbeez nor do I want to buy some million Orbeez, but then there's cool things that happen.

Like just last night we had tornado watches and warnings around Texas. It was brief, but Mikey has been dying to go see tornadoes and he'll talk to you all day about extreme weather. And yesterday I was able to, run just north a little bit and we were able to see the tail end of a pretty substantial tornado.

And it just, he loved it. And I loved seeing him love it. So I think that was really cool, but we just need to find the right ways to calm him, basically when he's going off on, Hey, did you know this is an updraft and these are vorticies and this is what I thought anyway. The point is those are the things he goes on and on about, and I think certain people tune out and I think it's hard for him to make friends.

And that's why we want to share. Really the root of this spoiler is just social skills, right? Yeah. Basically Mike, he's a very friendly kid. He's very outgoing. And he likes to have friends and other kids on the spectrum. It may not phase him that much. They might be more introverted. They're okay with not having a big, friendship circle.

But for Mikey, he did want to have friends and he did want to play with all the kids that were playing outside on the street. And he gets butt hurt when the girls have friends over and he doesn't, he's Hey, there are no boys over. Yeah. He wants to Frankfurt. Yes. And that's a good reason that you bring that up with grace.

Being a couple of years older than. And he sees her. He sees all of the friends that come over to play repeatedly and sleepovers and things like that. And he's like, where are my friends? And, I want friends to come over and I want friends to want to play with me and all that kind of stuff.

And it's always been a struggle and a challenge for. To have friends. And there's a bunch of podcasts that I listen to when I'm at walking around or driving or anything like that. And one of my favorite ones is tilt parenting podcast. And she talked about friendships on one of her episodes. And it was interesting to me because it gave me a different perspective.

As parents, we're individuals and we have our own ideas of what a friendship circle looks like. And it's all based on how we are and how we were raised and our experiences around friendships and for our children. We might project that onto them that they're not going to feel happy or fulfilled in their friendship circle, unless it looks a certain way.

And so it was a very interesting podcast to listen to because I saw a different perspective. And in today's age, Having an online community of gamer friends that might meet some kids needs for socialization and friendships, having just that one good friend might meet their needs for socialization and friendships, having a group of acquaintances where you're not super close, but you can get together and play for a couple hours and have fun and, it's done and over with.

And so it was just very enlightening for me because I think for myself, I did see that I did see how grace has it, where all of the kids on the street, if they're in her age range, they're just automatically going to be her friends, because they're all girls that she's nine. They're all girls that are nine years old and yes, they're going to have their differences and their immaturities and their, their strengths and all that kind of stuff.

But they're going to get together and they're going to play all day and. Then they're going to go home and might have to break up a couple of little crying incidences here and there, but they can pretty much run about the house and play. And I don't really get involved. However with Mikey, I had this desire to set up our house as the fun house, because I wanted kids to want to come over to our house and play so that I could supervise their play.

And I could listen to them playing and provide Mikey coaching on how to play with kids. And before he had kids come over, we actually had to go over house. Like when your friend comes over there, your guest let's let them pick what they want to play first. And we'll set. Yeah. And we'll set a timer for 15 or 20 minutes.

And when that timer is over, then you guys can pick a new game and it's going to be this time, what you choose to play. And we actually had to teach my EE that it was not okay. That if a friend didn't want to play what he wanted to play, that he could. Ignore that kid and do his own thing because to him, he still had a friend over well.

And then, because it led to other things, because sometimes that friend would hook up with joy or with grace and they would start to play and they would interact. And then Mike, you would feel butt hurt because they're not playing. Or Mike, you would be off playing this one thing that he wanted to play and the other child didn't and Mikey would really actually say, damn, you can go play in my room where if you want, or you can go jump on the trampoline if you want, because if you don't want to play what I want to play, I'm still just going to play this.

Yeah. We had a really hard time with perspective, taking sure there, definitely you needed social skills coaching in that regard, we tried to find environments of like-minded kids too. So coaster kits, which I so stoked about guys, You can take a look at it on YouTube coaster, kids with a K for coaster and K for kids.

We even went and we met up with them and we went to coaster kids days and we had special stuff. And I think that was a neat way for him to bond with other people on that. And it also didn't hurt too, that the founder of that channel also deals with autism and they had two different things to overlap on.

So that was neat. He's a great singer too. He's got involved in worship at church. And I remember we, we tried to get him involved in acting and the girls as well, thinking that would be a good outlet just for that activity. But as you guys know, some environments are perfect for our kids' personality and some of them are not right.

Our kindergarten story. This is another one where it's just you know what? Hey guys, we love Mike. He's got an awesome personality, but we're dealing with 40 other kids. And. Here's a different program that might be better for him. Nicely being kicked out if you will, but, but it is important for us to work it into our own home like we did in Virginia, which was great.

And we've done here too. And being able to control the environment has been helpful. Being able to use some of the OT stuff that we've talked about, which are, is this a big problem, small problem, medium problem, no problem. Whatever. Here are the rules before incidents occur. Like you talking about there, there's a really good we've tried those things.

We continue to try these things and work. We're continuing to do other stuff. Going back to the play dates. One of the things that I really struggled with was an end time for the play date. Cause I would be so excited that you had a friend over to play. That I would just let them keep playing and playing and friends are like siblings after a couple hours, they start bickering, they start not getting along.

So then I start hearing that and I'm like, oh gosh, the play date has expired. And how do I end it? Because I didn't set an end in mind when the boy came over. Cause I was just so excited for Mikey to have someone over to play. And so I've heard you say it before. We're like go to one of Mikey's friends and be like, Hey, are you even having.

That's okay. If you're not like get you back home, but are you even having fun now? And the boy was like, no, yeah, that was something that I needed to work on and have a plan in place because. I didn't want that play date to turn sour just because the kids were no longer enjoying their time together because it wasn't a new experience anymore.

So I would have to make up reasons where, you know, why the child would have to go home. Then Mike, you would not be happy for awhile, but then, he would get focused on something else and. I just think it's interesting when our kids have their super powers, like the things that they're hyper-focused on.

I've been volunteering in my church lately in the room for special needs kids. And so I've gotten to know a bunch of different kids and their personalities and what their strengths and superpowers are. So I always look for that when I'm getting to know them. And there was this one child that was not very conversational, but on the intake form from his parents, it said on there that he likes dinosaur.

So after trying to engage him in conversation and get to know him and everything, and it wasn't really working out very well. I went and checked his intake form and I saw that. So I started talking to him about dinosaurs and, oh my goodness. Like he knew so much about dinosaurs. He knew all of the long names and what they ate and how big they were.

And. It was just so amazing. And then another kid in the room also liked dinosaurs. And so they started making a connection. And I just want to encourage you that's one of the ways to develop social skills in your kids is the, once you identify what their super power is to look in your community and see just using the dinosaur example, are there children's museums or, things in the community that are around dinosaurs.

Parks where you dig for dinosaur fossils. There are those kinds of things here in central Texas. There is a rock quarry where a portion of it, it's just a sand pit area where kids dig for dinosaur bone parts, right? And it's if you go and you engage your child in something that they're naturally gifted to, then they're going to.

I have an easier time interacting with kids that have those desires as well. And it'll get the ball rolling for social interaction and friendships because they found a common interest. And even though they're going to have other hurdles and getting to know each other and stuff, just having that one common thing is going to just help them move forward.

And I still think though that may be great for enriching our kid. With their interests, but we need to use that as an environment to work on the social skill stuff. Yes. Yeah. Definitely. Parents can sit around and watch the kids interact and help them with whatever social skills they need help with.

If they start arguing. Not understanding each other or ignoring each other, then, we can step in and help coach them and guide them. But Mike, he still likes to go into that perspective of oh, Hey, you look like you're around the same age as me. We're automatically best friends. Just helping him take that a step further.

Today's podcast is about social skills, friendships, and superpowers, and social skills. Isn't just about friendships. Social skills is used in all other areas of helping a child on the spectrum, learn about their environment. And one of those is visiting the grocery store. And I think, babe, you set this up great.

When the kids were little about going into the grocery store with. Yeah, I just don't want him to be jerks. So my rules were pretty simple. It was like, look, and this is where it's funny because Heather is I'm going to go to Costco and I'm like, let's all go. And she's no.

And I'm like, dude, I will take the kids. I have no problem taking the kids. And none of them end up with concussions. There's a story. There goes way back. Everybody's fine now we're good. But yeah, really. It's just about when I'm in the car, we're about to get out. I'm like, look, this is what I expect. You're going to hold my hand.

Are you going to hold on to the. Grocery cart. You're going to sit in the cart. Like these things need to be very prescribed and structured. I don't want them to try to surprise me. I want them to understand what I expect and I want to quiz them on what I expect. If Mikey, when he was younger would stand up in the cart where he's supposed to be sitting and be like, yo dude, what did we talk about?

And he'll remind me. He's I sit down and I stay, sit it down. Or I sit down. Or my option is to walk alongside you and hold your hand or hold onto the cart. Those are the limited options that you have. It's not free range and go run some stuff out. But yeah, basically I'm a bit more focused when I go into a store anyway.

So it's Hey, here's what we're going to get. And sometimes I would be like, Hey, you hold onto the phone. And then the notes app, when we get the veggie straws, I want you to mark out veggie straws. So we're practicing a little bit of reading and we're also just getting through the process here too. So the main point that.

I don't want to have to be the parent that's like running around after my kids or throwing a shoe at them mom, or, being scolded by another parent because I'm disciplining one of my children. Like you've had that happen as well. So really it was just about, here's what I expect and here's how we can do this.

And Mikey, after a certain time was like, all right, I want to help bag the groceries. Or I want to talk to the people in the. Do this as well. So we enter into other things that are like, we have to learn how to read body language, when people are no longer interested in hearing about roller coasters and then just general manners.

Yeah. Yeah, of course. She's for good time. Yep. I remember when Mikey was younger, it was really challenging to go to birthday. There wasn't a lot of structure. There was a lot of games that you would play in groups. And if he's never been somewhere before then it opens up a lot of anxieties and unknown expectations.

And so there's a lot of, behaviors that would happen. That end, we didn't realize this, but like the first couple of birthday parties, it was like, how come they're getting gifts? And he was jealous. Yeah. He didn't like the fact that the birthday kids got gifts and he didn't. And one of the things that was a really hard for him, and I don't know if any of you ever experienced this, but Mikey loves to blow out candle.

Like everywhere. If we will go to a house that has, or that people are really into candles and they have candles for aroma therapy and he will just walk up to their candle and just blow it out and they'll be like why did he do this? Blow out the candle? And I'm like, oh, it's one of his things.

Yeah. It's one of his. So that transferred over to birthday parties. So when it was time to sing happy birthday, he was like a VOD of other kids. He wanted to stand right next to the birthday kid because they're the special kid of the hour. He wanted to sing really loud for them, happy birthday. And he wanted to blow out their candles.

Sure. Before they blew out their own candles. So every time we went to her birthday party, I had to talk to him before we went about how we're not going to blow up the kid's birthday candles. And then while the mom is setting up the birthday candles in the cake, I had to pull them aside and remind him again that we are not going to blow out the birthday candles, or we will have to leave.

We've had to leave a bunch of birthday parties. 'cause he wants, still blow out the birthday candles. Yup. Does he do it anymore now? But you can tell, you can see it in his eyes that he really wants to blow out those candles. And I think anyway, it's shifted a little bit. He just wants to scream the song now.

That's okay. And here's the other thing too. I think this is awesome. My friends know Mikey, he was invited to that birthday party for a reason. Like they know him, they know be, I honestly would talk to them about his birthday candle thing. Some of my friends would say to me, do you want us to relight it so that he can blow the birthday candles out after the child does or.

Put a candle in his cupcake, for example, because his dietary differences, so they've let him blow out his own candle while they're doing theirs too, which is going to, like everybody gets a candle to blow out, which is cute, but also not the traditional thing. So you're right. Mike is 11 now.

And I love sharing his stories and remembering, because it just goes to show you like how far he's come and that the struggles that you're dealing with right now with your seven year old, you're probably not going to be dealing with your 11 year old consistency and persistence are key with our kids on the spectrum.

They run by repetition and structure and also by being reminded of the behaviors that are not okay. Yeah, for sure. Another one that came to mind, I don't know what you were going to talk about, but I'm going to go ahead and talk right. Over whatever you thought was is good sportsmanship. He's an athletic little dude.

We've got him into like rock climbing and he did great there. He's done par core. Awesome. At bowling, even though that was a struggle to get. Into the point where it's failure's okay, but we're like, okay, those are all individual things, you can swing the golf club pretty darn good. Those are all individual things.

So we've tried in the past. It's probably time for us to do this again, but baseball and no matter how much. I have a rule set. There is around a sport like baseball. There's still some improvisation, right? He expects every time that a person who was on first base, when a ball is hit, they're going to move to second base and he has an option to tag him out or whatever.

And when that doesn't happen, because the first baseman caught the ball and he's out so that the runner on first wouldn't advance that sends him into like, why didn't that person go? And it becomes a distraction to the team. It becomes a distraction. Everything else here. And which leads to I don't want to play.

And then this is stupid. And, just being really like, not open to learning how to do that. He didn't file that as oh, okay. So that's another sub rule that oh, okay. So they don't have to actually run. Okay. All right. No big deal. It's a combination of the, like what I expect in the way a game flows.

There wasn't a lot of room for improvisation during the game that made it hard for him because it frustrates him. And then, gloves get thrown down and he storms off and cries or causes a scene and just interrupts everything there too. So the sportsmanship part's tough and that lends itself to, or lens into, if you will.

We've talked about this, that he would run in a parking lot to get in the grocery store because that was the goal. And he now still wants to run faster than anyone who's running to anything. Like we talked about it in our IEP is right. Is that being first to the door or first out or first in isn't what's important, safety is it.

And we've even had to talk about it this weekend. We were moving his older brother into an apartment and he just wanted to. A bit extra, running down the second flight of stairs, running up the second flight of stairs, not really carrying things that he should've been carrying because they were a bit heavy over, a hundred feet of a walk, not heavy right now, but there'll be heavy after he gets upstairs.

He just doesn't want to slow down. But then like his sportsmanship, he's driven by the competition of getting the thing done, but then he's got an ill attitude sometimes. He can't do that. Like he'll give up on a race with his sisters and just be pissed off, upset and it just irritated.

So yeah, it's pretty darn crazy. The social skills around that and being able to improvise, like I get concerned about later on in life for him interviewing for a job. It's something we'll tackle later on and we'll definitely have shows on. Really getting them into independent adulthood, but yeah, just lets us know that we've got some stuff to do before we continue, though.

I'd love to hear from you guys. We would love to hear from you guys about what are your super powers, what it is that you guys are doing to see them and then enrich them. And then how are you tackling social skills? And if you could just give us a call at (469) 249-0425. That is the finding Mikey podcast.

It's the direct pipe, in here to the intergalactic headquarters for the podcast. It's my office. We'd love to hear that. In addition to that too, if you'll go to finding Mikey podcast.com/resources, you'll see everything that we talk about in all of our shows. You can, of course go to the show notes for today's episode to get information specifically, like the episode on the tilt podcast that Heather mentioned will be there, but anything else that's common across the board will show up in our resources here, as well as ways to get in touch with us and speaking of resources, this one will be listed here.

And I want Heather to talk about it. Yes. So we've been talking a lot today about social skills and there is a certain structure to social skills, and there's so many things that we need to work on with our. And it's not always easy as a parent to think about what to say. How do I explain this situation to my child in a way that they're going to grow?

And that they're going to shape their behavior around what is acceptable in society or how you're going to go to the airport and like what to expect at an airport. Like we may not think of all the right things to say to your child when you're preparing to go across country to see your grandma. So there are websites out there that offer information on social skills.

And one of the ones that Mike and I have found valuable is a website called model me kids and model me. Kids is all about videos, short videos. They're only like 32 seconds to three minute videos. I say that with enthusiasm because sometimes it's hard to hold our kids attention. And especially if it's not something that they're interested in Mr.

Beast, an hour long YouTube video, for sure. Totally cool. But how to interact with someone at a grocery store probably don't really care about, but you're right. The short haul. Yeah. So it's a short video. It's a structured video that is narrated by a child. And so that isn't engaging for our kids because it's not an adult that's like telling you how to do things or telling you how to brush your teeth.

That's actually. A child saying, Hey, I'm going to get ready for school and I'm going to brush my teeth. And this is how I brushed my teeth. It's really neat because it's a video, which our kids are wired for searching, and I remember back when Mikey was diagnosed with autism, his developmental pediatrician told me to read social stories with him and she went and we did.

But when I found this website that had videos, it engaged Mikey a lot more. And because they're so short, like I could watch them with him and then we could have conversations and we could watch them frequently because like I said, they need repetition and practice and they can be opened up on your phone right before you go into somewhere or anything like this too.

They're everywhere. I love that. They cover it's not just situational stuff, but like you said, like getting ready for school, it's like first then next, last, like that kind of a thing. But they cover things like self-confidence and they tackle some of the bullying stuff here as well, organization, things like that are deeper and more difficult to tackle, but like motivation it's really like they get into emotions and, they've even got one.

That are for like job skills and things like that. So it really covers a spectrum from age two on up. I did that. They've been helpful really as a helpful resource there too. And I think if I could tag onto that also, it's not just the videos that they have there too, is that they've got ways, like they're not just talking to her.

They're talking to you and me as parents here, and they give us ways to talk to our kids. And in a way, kinda like how to watch the videos with the kids here too, and just encouragement on how to talk to them about it afterwards and really just focusing on practicing these things. So I think with those bits there, I think that's super, super helpful.

And I'm all about community and resources. I say that on almost every podcast, because that's just where my heart is. And this website is affordable. It does have a fee, but Hey, it's video, it's production. All that goes into videos. It is affordable. I would definitely check it out. Sure. These are weird things to have to tackle.

It's not something that a neuro-typical person tends to have to deal with. Like I said, with the baseball example, it's oh, okay. I didn't know that rule existed. Logged it. Got it. Now we're set, but for the people that struggle with it, it's multimodal through words, it's through reading it's through practicing and in person it's through seeing other people do it as examples.

You've got to try every different way. Possible that a person could learn to find the way that resonates with them. I dig it. There's an app for this, right? Yes. The app goes along with certain videos that you might buy. And so it's just supplemental practice. Cool. Cool. Good. We hope you guys check that out.

It's model me kids. You can find out more about it on our resources page at finding Mikey podcast. We're going to go ahead and wrap it up here. This was really good. Every day, we have an opportunity to enrich Mikey's life and it spills over into the enrichment of our girls' lives as well.

And when you're an intentional person, when you're an intentional parent, sometimes these things are the best to help you. These resources like model, the kids are the best resources to really just help us take it from a different angle, but really take it to another level. That's it. We encourage you guys check it out.

So anything to add. You said you don't about how we're enriching our kids. And that just made me think about how grace wants to be working with special needs kids. Sure. We've got to get on. Yeah. We've got to get around and talk to her a little bit about that, but yeah, that's an interesting thing. So yeah, she wants to be a behaviorist when she's older, because she's, it's impacted her development because she has a special needs brother.

Don't get it. She doesn't want to help her brother. She just wants to help.

All right, guys. That does it for us today. Thanks for taking the time to be with us. .

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Topics that Mikey can talk about forever, why that’s awesome, and how it can be a problem.
  • Mikey’s superpower and why it makes it hard for him to make friends.
  • The different perspective Heather was introduced to on Tilt Podcast.
  • How socialization and friendship has changed since our generation
  • The different ways that our kids’ needs for friendship can be met.
  • How Mike and Heather have taught Mikey social skills and ‘house rules’ for having a friend over.
  • Koaster Kids and the community that they have found there.
  • Controlling the environment and implementing OT tools to support Mikey socially.
  • Why it is important to set an end time for a play date.
  • How Heather has observed different superpowers in the special needs kids she has looked after at church.
  • How you can use your child’s superpower to teach them social skills.
  • Challenges around birthday parties and blowing out candles.
  • Repetition, structure, and being reminded which behaviors are not okay.
  • Teaching Mikey sportsmanship while he is playing with other kids.
  • A call to hear from our listeners about your child’s superpowers.
  • Resources to teach social skills in different situations provided on Model Me Kids.
  • The ultimate goal: to enrich our kids’ lives.

Tweetables:

“In today’s age, having an online community of gamer friends might meet some kids’ needs for socialization and friendships. Having just that one good friend might meet their needs for socialization and friendships.” — Heather [0:04:16]

“If you go and engage your child in something that they’re naturally gifted to, then they’re going to have an easier time interacting with kids who have those interests as well, and it will get the ball rolling for social interaction and friendships because they found a common interest.” — Heather [0:10:58]

“Our kids learn by repetition and structure, and being reminded of behaviors that are not okay.” — Heather [0:17:36]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Call Us at 469-249-0425

Model Me Kids

Autism Parenting Magazine

Tilt Parenting Podcast

Koaster Kids on YouTube

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