In the Kids Cooperate teen social group for high school students with ADHD, syness, and high functioning Autism we have recently started doing a segment each week where we discuss the news headlines. This has sparked an interesting discussion about whether the drawback of exposure to bad news balances or outweighs the benefit of being informed.
There is little doubt that exposure to the news cycle has drawbacks. A recent article in The Guardian noted that reading or watching the news can even trigger the limbic system, causing panic, immune system weakness, and decreased growth hormone. Yikes.
In choosing to have a "news segment" to groups, I argue that many of these symptoms are more a result of the frantic, headline driven way that news agencies present the material as part of the short and competitive news cycle.. What we model in groups, and what is almost completely lacking in the media, is civil and rational discourse. I present headlines in a neutral way, and we use them as launching pads into discussions about social relationships, empathy, confrontation, and emotion.
There are pragmatic benefits to discussing the news as well. Top news stories serve as a kind of socially appropriate filler conversation similar to the weather, but with greater gravitas. Another important pragmatic benefit is that by hearing the stories in a calm and supported context, they are less likely to cause distress when they are heard or seen on television or radio.
Aaron Weintraub, MS runs strength based social skills groups with a focus on children and teenagers with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Asperger's Syndrome, High Functioning Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and Shyness. Strengths-based approach in a community based setting. Groups available in Tolland, Mansfield, Willimantic, Hartford, Vernon, Manchester and Coventry Connecticut.