I work at a middle school that has a ‘Focus on Social Skills’ program for students with Autism. At this point the class comprises of males and they are ‘discovering’ girls. General social communication skills are hard for these guys, but throw in hormones and…well, you can guess what might happen.
Many of these teenage boys were doing things that scared girls away or made them think that they were ‘weird’ even though they had the best intentions. I decided to make a questionnaire called ‘Asking teenage girls about teenage boys’ to delve into the issue instead of lecturing them that staring at a girl for 10 minutes might make a girl uncomfortable. I generated some questions based on behaviors that the guys were exhibiting:
E.g. How does it make you feel when a boy stares at you all the time?
How does it make you feel when a boy teases or always makes jokes about you?
And then I asked the class to come up with some of their own questions – what ‘insider information’ did they want to know? They had a lot of questions and they loved the idea of going ‘undercover’ to really find out what the girls were thinking! They came up with questions that I wouldn’t have thought about, but then again, I was never a teenage boy!
E.g. How would you feel if a guy surprises you and turns up at your house?
How would you feel if a guy calls you on the phone everyday?
After I had my list of questions I interviewed teenage girls at my school and collected their answers anonymously. It then made for great social thinking discussion based on Michelle Garcia Winner’s ‘thinking about me’ and ‘thinking about you’ concepts. I haven’t provided the questionnaire that I developed because they are questions my students wanted to know – the sincere, the quirky and the funny! Your group of teenagers may be different and have different questions.
Using these simple worksheets that I made (download below), we were able to look at certain behaviors and how they are perceived by the opposite sex, which then gave the teenage guys some guidelines on acceptable and unacceptable social behavior and communication.