As I read this article on ABCNews I sat here in tears. It pulled at my heart strings. Seven-year-old Mollie-Raine has Autism, ADHD and other special needs according to her mother. In completing a homework assignment, she wrote out what you see pictured above.
anbrstens me. (understands me)
Nos I hav atesm. (knows I have autism)
Smiles oll the time. (Smiles all the time)
All Molly-Raine wants is a friend that understands and accepts her for who she is, her autism included.
Many children get to a point in their life where they want and/or enjoy being around a friend. This is a tricky topic for children with autism. So many of the children I have worked get to a point where they seem to want to be around friends but don’t quite know HOW to act around them.
Take Seth for example. Seth was a preschooler who enjoyed being around his friends but he was not sure how to play with them. He would line up a group of kitchen toys across the classroom, happily playing along side his friends, and this was what he was capable of doing at the time. This was a big deal! He was in a noisy overwhelming room, playing next to his classmates, but not yet interacting with them in play.
It became obvious that Seth wanted to play with his classmates. He would watch them play but his attempts to join in were unsuccessful. Seth would walk over and take a toy, knock over a tower, wreck the train tracks or hit a friend (usually the same child).
To those that don’t know Seth, he might appear as a trouble maker or a naughty kid. To those that do know Seth, we recognized this as an attempt to join in with his peers. We tried picture symbols, using a low and high-tech device and verbal models to help Seth interact.
It was not until we put it into the form of a story, connecting the pictures with what to say, role-played and then practiced with his peers, did Seth understand how to ask a friend to play. Once we tackled that and he became a pro at asking friends to play we moved on to teach Seth about the concept of sharing so he could have ongoing success once the play began.
This method that we used with Seth has successfully been used with hundreds of other children. Children I have worked directly with and children of families in our Little Sprout Speech (LSS) community! If you’re interested in helping your child make friends you can get the same tools I personally used to help Seth here: http://littlesproutspeech.com/store/mini-stories-make-keep-friends/
Here’s to friendships being made!