How do you learn NOT to be naive?



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schleppenheimer
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Sun Aug 03, 2008 1:16 pm

I'm in a very interesting situation that many of you may be dealing with --

My son is 12, and the differences between him and his peers are becoming much more pronounced. He is just SO immature, so naive, so innocent. He's basically fairly good at socializing, but the trouble is that he seems a good three years younger than he is.

I have a friend at church who is the mother to a 14 year old girl who, although undiagnosed, basically has the exact same problems. The mother, who is a good friend, is now asking me what I am doing to socialize my son. I've told her that I no longer have him in social skills classes, because I was noticing at this age that the group of boys in that class were reinforcing negative social habits in each other. I have my son in the same theatre classes that she has her younger (NT) daughter in, and so I suggested this acting class for her older girl as well. Although the acting school is good, and is helpful for these kids to learn how to socialize, it isn't great in all ways for this purpose.

My son does things such as asking too many questions in class at church, asking naive questions, unrelated questions to the topic, etc. If someone older is kind to him, he overdoes the relationship, depending on that person too much. The older kids at church don't really understand what is wrong, they just see how different he is from his peers. This is the same problem with the daughter of my friend, although it is different because she is a girl -- now her peers are becoming catty, overly interested in boys, manipulative, etc.

I wish that I could find some way to help these two kids. My ideas for helping the situation are limited to teaching them humor -- by using video of the old show "Whose Line is it Anyway?" to teach improv skills, which will help in acting class but also in real life. I've always wondered about recording old Bill Cosby shows to use as a way to teach social skills. But other than this, I'm stumped. Not even sure if these things will help that much.

If you are on the spectrum, when did you learn not to be naive?

Kris



ster
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Sun Aug 03, 2008 1:57 pm

my 16 year old has learned by trial and error.....didn't have him in any classes. had him in scouts. ...ultimately, i tried to minimize his interaction with "nasty" peers, and tried to increase his time with socially appropriate peers. although, i must say, socially appropriate to most any 16 year old boy is vastly different than what's *really* socially appropriate :lol:



schleppenheimer
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Sun Aug 03, 2008 2:07 pm

yeah, we've got ours in scouts, and we try to minimize the socially nasty peers as well. I guess anyone has to learn by trial and error -- it just seems like it's so much harder for these guys.

One thing -- am I in error in advising my son to be quiet in most social situations, at least for a while? I would like him to not talk so much (not that he talks too much, it's just that when he does, he very openly shows how innocent he is), and instead, I advise him to observe as much as he can of behavior in other people so that he can learn what's funny and what's not, learn correct behavior without giving away that he's so innocent. This is something that NT people do, especially after they've had a gaff of some sort and have been embarrassed by their own stupid behavior.

This all makes me think of the phrase "it is better to keep one's mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt." I hate to stifle any child's personality, but I also hate to see them try too hard, and have them sabatoge their own attempts at socializing by doing so inappropriately.

This all just seems like such a lose-lose proposition sometimes.



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Sun Aug 03, 2008 2:10 pm

it's heartbreaking to see them struggle...........re: asking him to work on listening skills- i think that's a great idea ! this is the approach my hubby's mom took with him ( hubby has AS). everyone thinks hubby is such a great listener !



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Sun Aug 03, 2008 2:12 pm

As a 39 year old Aspie I still have difficulty with being too naive. It doesn't seem like we ever grow completely out of it, but at least for myself I think I have gotten better. I learned from reading a lot of behavioral psychology books, etiquette and manners books and just by analyzing every person I see. I analyze ever second of every interaction to decide "what did they really mean", "what should i have done different", etc. I also learned not to express myself too deeply to strangers and not to let people who aren't my friends know too much about me or else they pick up on my differences and try to bully me. I found these people hurt me or else they taught me bad behaviors. So I guess parents have to monitor this in their kids till the child is old enough to see through other people.

I think my best social training came from learning martial arts when I was 19. I saw online that some schools like Jhoon Rhee's taekwondo in Virgina now have autistics only martial arts classes!



spudnik
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Sun Aug 03, 2008 2:55 pm

This may sound mean, but I wouldn't be overly protective of him, he's got to learn these skills on his own, or he will always be naive. He sound's like he's a smart kid, and its very good that he is always asking questions in class, there is nothing wrong with that. The best thing in the long run would let him interact with anyone he wants to, sure he's going to meet up with the occasional bully, but anyone who has gone though school has met up with those too. I would definitely recommend Scouting, it was a great experience for me, and I did learn valuable life skills from that experience, boys will not flourish if they are not allowed to get dirty and experience the world around them. Look at this past generation of children, who don't do anything except stay inside and watch tv and play video games, those kids are not going to amount to much, and will still be living with their parents in their 40's, thats not flourishing. I like the idea of his taking acting classes, I wished I have taken them to get over my shyness as a child.



2ukenkerl
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Sun Aug 03, 2008 3:32 pm

schleppenheimer wrote:
...
My son is 12, and the differences between him and his peers are becoming much more pronounced. He is just SO immature, so naive, so innocent. He's basically fairly good at socializing, but the trouble is that he seems a good three years younger than he is.

I have a friend at church who is the mother to a 14 year old girl who, although undiagnosed, basically has the exact same problems. The mother, who is a good friend, is now asking me what I am doing to socialize my son. I've told her that I no longer have him in social skills classes, because I was noticing at this age that the group of boys in that class were reinforcing negative social habits in each other. I have my son in the same theatre classes that she has her younger (NT) daughter in, and so I suggested this acting class for her older girl as well. Although the acting school is good, and is helpful for these kids to learn how to socialize, it isn't great in all ways for this purpose.

My son does things such as asking too many questions in class at church, asking naive questions, unrelated questions to the topic, etc. If someone older is kind to him, he overdoes the relationship, depending on that person too much. The older kids at church don't really understand what is wrong, they just see how different he is from his peers. This is the same problem with the daughter of my friend, although it is different because she is a girl -- now her peers are becoming catty, overly interested in boys, manipulative, etc.

I wish that I could find some way to help these two kids. My ideas for helping the situation are limited to teaching them humor -- by using video of the old show "Whose Line is it Anyway?" to teach improv skills, which will help in acting class but also in real life. I've always wondered about recording old Bill Cosby shows to use as a way to teach social skills. But other than this, I'm stumped. Not even sure if these things will help that much.

If you are on the spectrum, when did you learn not to be naive?

Kris


well, I was more mature, am still pretty innocent, and used to be fairly naive. Your idea about acting may be a good one. Improv is good, but I think the "who's line is it anyway?" won't really help, and is kind of raunchy. How will copying "bill cosby" help social skills?

As for learning not to be naive, I think that happened around 11 or 12. I became very cynical instead. I now determine truth as a narrow band. It is the old "too good to be true" deal. I STILL fall for some things that though they seem too good to be true, they had reasonable reasons, and I had past experience to some degree. I EVEN used "reviews" in sales letters to determine potential.

That is ESPECIALLY bad in MY case since I get to have a bit of an inside view on how those people think. It is APPALING! Did you know that they actually PLAN to have big launches and the reviews are often a kind of you do this for me, and I will for you "joint venture"? Well, NOW I am FAR more cautious. This NEW cautiousness is only since I have been say 40.

BTW Some NTs are FAR more naive than THEY believe.



sinsboldly
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Sun Aug 03, 2008 6:10 pm

the best thing I learned was that I was naive. And to look at things from various angles before acting on it. I had to lose my charming innocence by being used by people, having the 'being used' something I cared about, too. Usually, I didn't want to think badly about the person, so I would forgive them. After all, weren't we suppose to forgive those that trespass?

But then I learned you were not supposed to forget, just to forgive. I then had to remember that people will use me for their own purposes and that I am supposed to not forget that is not good to let them do. So I had to remember all the times I was used because it was bad. I didn't like remembering the bad things so I had to stop letting them use me.

that is how I learned to not be naive.

but I would rather BE naive and not remember.

Merle


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schleppenheimer
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Sun Aug 03, 2008 6:18 pm

As far as using Bill Cosby to teach social skills, what I was thinking is that it's 1)entertaining, 2) exaggerated, and 3) clean (which is getting harder and harder to find on TV these days). There are so many very simple social skills concepts within the Cosby show, because it was made back in the day when things where simpler. Each kid in the family has varying situations, like trying to pull one over on the parents, or falling in love, or having disagreements with friends, etc. I figured part of teaching with the show would be to turn off the volume, and have my son try and figure out what's going on just by watching the faces. OR, you could watch part of the action in an episode, and then pause and see if my son can predict what might happen.

I'm very happy to read all of your responses. I agree that he's going to have to learn many of these skills on his own. And that's fine. But if I can facilitate the learning curve even a little bit, I'd like to.

I also think that learning not to express oneself too deeply is a good idea -- I have an NT daughter who is very careful about what she gives away [never tells her friends much that's personal] and it's really saved her a lot of heartache. If we could teach our son the same kind of outlook, it will help him a lot in the long run.



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Sun Aug 03, 2008 6:20 pm

I'd second that, knowing that you ARE naive and will have to factor that into all your actions is a big step.

I'm still somewhat naive, I think everyone is as honest and trustworthy as I am. I tend to go with the 'trust no-one but god' motto, it works for me but trust no-one is a hard concept to explain to children. It's sort of a 'being carried' or being a passenger concept, trust.



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Sun Aug 03, 2008 6:58 pm

I had the fortunate (or unfortunate depending on how you look at it) experience of growing up under two very cynical parents. From a very early age me and my brother were taught to be very cautious with people as there are many dishonest people who only want to "take advantage of you". The whole "trust no one" deal. If I knew how to bridge the gap from being utterly cynical to being utterly naive I'd let you know. He is going to have to deal with some hard things socially, it will be up to his own experiences and personality to determine the lessons he learns. As far as humor goes either he will have the knack for it or he won't. I knew a few other aspie kids whose parents did try to have a very active and protective role in their social doings and for the most part these tended to be the kids who behaved the most obnoxiously. Whether or not they were obnoxious because of their parents having such a heavy handed role, or if their parents were heavy handed because the kids were obnoxious I couldn't say.



blessedmom
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Sun Aug 03, 2008 10:59 pm

I am still very naive in many ways, and my two teen sons with AS are the same. Knowing you're naive is the first step in figuring out how be smart and trusting at the same time. Unfortunately, that's a lesson that has to be learned. It is very hard to sit back and watch my kids make some of the same mistakes that I made. Me trying to talk to them and get them to avoid those life lessons won't do any good. There are certain times when I will ask them questions to try and get them to see that a situation or person isn't to be trusted. It helps them to think it through and they don't feel like I'm intervening.

I noticed with both my sons, that they seemed to be 2 or 3 years behind their peers from the ages of 11 to 14 and at that point they caught up a little. I hope they never completely lose that naivete. I think it is a large part of their charm. :)

Best of luck! These teen years have been really interesting! :lol:

Lauri


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schleppenheimer
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Mon Aug 04, 2008 12:09 am

Lauri, I agree -- there's a real part of me that LOVES my son's naivete, and I don't want him to lose it. But I am nervous for him to be so openly naive that he will lose some of the social gains he has made lately. I guess it's not something that I can control, but I would love to be able to help provide him with some tools to make life a little easier.



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Mon Aug 04, 2008 1:30 am

When we were starting to teach my daughter listening skills, this is what we did. She had a friend or two she sat at lunch with, and was hyperfocused on them. To expand her horizons a bit we had her listen to the conversations all the kids had. She made a list of the kids who normally sat at her table and weekly she had an assignment. One week was to tell us something about what some of these kids liked to do, and she had to gain that from the conversation. Another week was what music do they like. After a few months of this she found she knew alot about these kids just listening, and what was really nice is, until she knew, sometimes she didn't care much. My daughter at the time only wanted to talk about her interests :) Sometimes she was even able to join in appropriately.

We also follow the two minute rule, this means that when you walk up to a group of kids that are talking, you wait two minutes before saying anything, and listen to what is being talked about. This takes care of accidentally blurting something out that has nothing to do with the conversation.

We role play as well, and show her how a typical conversation might go. We also realized as we approached middle school, that she would hear bad language, and toilet humor, and all those things that kids say. We desensitized her from it right here at home, used some of the language she would hear, told some of the jokes, etc. It prepared her. The word sex prior to this would make her scream and go into a tirade of why you shouldn't talk about that or say that word! We needed to get her to the point where these things didn't cause her to over-react.

All this has had a very positive affect, and she is much less gullible than she used to be. They all grow up, you can't stop it, and if we simply sheltered her she would not be well prepared. I can protect her from alot of things, but with some things, protection can retard growth. We just try to keep it honest and real. She herself knows people deserve respect, and not everyone talks like that but a lot do. We have high school coming up in a month! A whole new ballgame, and we're just going to keep building on what we already do.


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schleppenheimer
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Mon Aug 04, 2008 9:49 am

Bunni, your idea about listening at lunch and bringing home something weekly (or so) about what her friends like is BRILLIANT. I've been trying to do similar things, but this is super focused and easy to ask my son to do. I'm really going to implement this to help him pay attention to others.

We also have "prepared" him for the kinds of things he would hear at middle school and beyond -- bad language, dirty jokes, etc. This is quite a rough thing in our household, because we try to teach values that are the opposite of that, but you have to get your child ready for the onslaught of stuff they will hear away from the home. Just like your situation, he would react very strongly to anyone swearing, etc., and we were trying, as you were, to help him not to overreact.

Thanks so much for these ideas. I think that they will be helpful.



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