My eldest son, who has AS, likes to watch the Disney Channel. My younger son, who also has AS, derisively calls it ‘Disney & Ketchup’, likening it to fast food that’s all the same (he has a point). But then, their AS presents very differently to each other – that’s the thing about Asperger’s – no two people have exactly the same symptoms which is why it can be so hard to diagnose.
I believe that Disney programmes such as Shake It Up, Wizards of Waverley Place, iCarly and Sonny With A Chance, can help people with AS develop their social awareness.
The Disney Channel offers very moral programmes. They teach right from wrong, model behaviours, discuss social dilemmas and show conflicts that are resolved by taking the right course of action. Most of all, they’re not subtle and are over-acted, so are easy for a child with AS to get to grips with, without confusion.
They portray young people who are integrated with the world and their surroundings, who relate well-and sometimes not so well- to others, often in an overblown way, which is good when you can miss subtle cues. They show the cool kid, the bully and the nerd and hold mirrors up to their behaviour enabling their traits to be magnified in a way that is easy for a child with poor social understanding to comprehend.Sometimes bad things happen to the central characters and we are shown how they deal with it and get through it. Sometimes, to me as an adult, it can seem puerile, but it’s that simplicity that works on a level that gets the message across.
While it wouldn’t be a great idea for a child to copy the actions of the characters exactly and over-act in real life (a danger in a child with AS), it is possible to use these programmes to discuss why certain things happened, why certain reactions were shown or why particular misunderstandings happened. While real life isn’t as clear-cut or sugary as Disney life, I think it is possible to use the programmes as a learning tool for exploring social situations and to apply the lessons learned by the characters in the programmes to every day situations.
Posted by Tania Tirraoro on March 31, 2011
I’ve been wading my way through the Green Paper on SEN and one thing really sticks out – what happens to those children who, like mine, already have a statement? Parents, like me, fought hard to get them the provision they need, enshrined in law.My boys are both funded by the LEA – what happens to that?
One mum, Lisa, said to me, “I had to self refer and battle and luckily with the support of a very experienced Ed Psych, get the statement and still battle to keep the stability, so I am worried. I keep ploughing through little by little. IPSEA have said they need finer details I just don’t trust any government at the moment because of the cutbacks and recession.”
The NAS says,”Parents have told us that they really value the protections that statements provide, which are an essential tool in helping to fight for their child’s rights and to hold schools and services to account if they fail to provide adequate support. Many parents we speak to have been battling for years to get their child’s needs recognised, understood and met. If the Government is to remove statements then they must ensure that they fulfil their promise to provide the same level of legal protection, otherwise they will be unsuccessful in their commitment to stop vulnerable children falling through the gaps.”
Any efforts to join up the different threads of SEN and help parents get the assistance they need for their children is to be welcomed. I did note that although the numbers of SEN at School Action and School Action+ have grown, the number of children with statements has stayed stable – indicating that there is no ‘explosion’ in the number of children with complex needs. In fact, there are many children who need to be statemented who can’t get one no matter how hard they try.
The last thing I want is to have to go through the support process again – been there, done that and proved without doubt that my children need the support they now have. I’ll be looking forward to getting more detail as the process continues.
Posted by Tania Tirraoro on March 10, 2011