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Dyslexia and Social Situations
Q: My son is almost nine and was recently diagnosed as being moderately dyslexic. Besides the normal frustrations and high anxiety that accompany this disorder, he seems to miss a lot of social cues and misreads situations and what the intended message is. This is especially true when jokes are being told. He says it is difficult to make friends. What types of things would help him with these problems...especially as we look at moving into pre-adolesence with him? What questions should we be asking to get these concerns addressed? Thank you for your help, it is greatly appreciated.
A: Your son appears not to have the ability to relate socially to others in a manner that makes others comfortable. My guess is that this is a totally unconscious process and that his facial expressions, how physically close he gets to kids (too close for them) when talking or playing with them, his inappropriate lack of response when humor is used, are all indications of him truly not knowing how to respond to social cues and "rules of social etiquette."
I saw a preview for an Oprah Winfrey show many months ago which focused on kids who had this difficulty. A specialist in this area who had also written books dealing with this behavior pattern was to be a guest. Small group classes which taught kids these skills were going to be shown. I suggest you and I try to contact Ms. Winfrey's production staff and request a transcript of that show; maybe they would also send you a tape if you explained your situation. I'm going to call our local TV affiliate station that broadcasts Oprah and try to get her Chicago number that way. You do the same. I know this set of behaviors is not widely discussed in psychological circles. This may not be directly applicable to your son but I have a hunch it is. E-mail me when you get an answer; I'll do the same. Good luck.
FLASH!!! Before I sent this back to you but after I wrote the aforementioned, I was able to find out the specific Oprah show and how you can order a complete transcript. Telephone Burrell Transcripts at 1-800-777-TEXT and ask for a copy of the October 15, 1996 show on children who had difficulty picking up on social cues; it will cost you $7 for the transcript and P&H. Good luck and let me know what happens.
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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.