Circle of Friends

Tomorrow, at 8:35am, Daniel will be sitting in Prasad’s class giving a short talk about him. I drew it up today in an outline. Prasad will not be present, but it’s an effort to help his new classmates understand and accept his gifts, eccentricities and difficulties. It’s a process known as “Circle of Freinds” and it’s used widely in primary and secondary schools. I did it for Sorin in 5th grade, and it did wonders for her in elementary school and beyond. Her peers suddenly saw her through new eyes, and they knew how to help, accept, and guide her whenever possible. With Prasad, Daniel plans to discuss adoption just so the kids are aware of how many kids are in the same predicament Prasad was (i.e. 80 million orphans in India, 143 million worldwide). He’ll briefly explain how wonderful it was to finally have Prasad in our family, and what a blessing he has been. There will be some basic discussion of how difficult it was for him in India, not feeling safe, well fed, or loved in the orphanage and how those feelings still bubble up when he feels badly. How he never learned how to make & keep friends or conversation skills, so he needs help and patience in those areas. How being so sad in India kept him from learning at school, so he’s playing catch-up now. And of course he’s going to point out a long list of great qualities Prasad has. Our hope is that kids will feel a sense of compassion and sympathy, and cut him more slack socially. That’s what happened with Sorin, and it really helped her self-esteem.

Sorin was present during her Circle of Friends presentation, but we decided that Prasad will not be. Mainly because it will make him intensely nervous, jumpy, he’ll interrupt a lot, and ultimately it will bring up a lot of sadness and anger about his past. He’ll be kept in a reading class during the morning, but I’m sure when he returns to class he’ll experience a whole new mindset from his classmates.

We’ve been planning to do this since the last part of 3rd grade. Now seems like the perfect time, considering he’s a new student, and he’s been having some social problems the last two weeks. He’s hypersensitive to comments and actions of others, and goes overboard in scolding or correcting them. He’s also been violating physical boundaries by touching classmates (hair, shoulders,, etc) even when they request him to stop. He doesn’t stop, and gets very upset that they even want him to stop. He takes it personally and becomes angry. He still has a lot to learn, so the teachers, Daniel and I all thought it was a ripe time to inform students about his history and issues. It’s a really accepting and thoughtful group of kids, so I have a feeling that all will go very well.

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