Circle of Friends; 2nd session

As you know from a previous post, we are forming a Circle of Friends group.  Yesterday was our 2nd session.  One of the children saw me in the hall, in the morning, and asked me if we were meeting at lunch.   How encouraging that they are keeping track of the schedule, since we hadn’t sent out the passes yet.    We give them early lunch passes so they can get through the lunch line first and we have more time for our meeting. It also serves as a reminder that we are meeting.  I’m not use to children being that aware of their schedules, except maybe some of  my children with Autism.

We invited the Autism Specialist to join us for this session.   She was introduced as a resource for them if they had questions about Autism.  She is a familiar figure to many of the children in our school because she trained a service dog last year and many of the children noticed when the dog was in the building and would ask to pet him.  A couple of children have  parents who work  in the schools as assistants to children with Autism so they were actually quite knowledgeable about characterisitics .  The Autism specialist read the book  My Best Friend Will by Jamie Lowell and Tara Tuchel.  It’s a factual book about a real child that reviews characteristics and differences but doesn’t lose sight that everyone is an individual and can be a friend. This led to some good questions about how to be a role model  and friend.
One of the characteristics reviewed in the book was the need for predictability and how a change in the schedule can really throw the student with Autism off.  One of the students asked how they could be a role model for that.  We talked about how everyone doesn’t like change but we often work our way through change  by talking to ourselves in our head.  The student with autism may not do this and not be aware what other people are thinking in their heads.  They were told to try verbalizing their thoughts for D.  For example; If outside recess is canceled because of the weather they could say, “I really wanted to go outside for recess too, but we can choose do something indoors instead”.
During  the last session, we had talked about prompting “ask backs”.  For example, when asking “How was your weekend?” and the student says “fine”, you can then prompt them to ask the same question back so that the conversation continues.  A couple of the students reported they had tried it with D.   One student had then carried a bit further and asked D what “Goosebumps” book he was reading.  D is a big fan of Goosebumps books.  D had responded and then actually asked him what book he was reading without prompting.   I have to say this was the highlight of my day.  It made me feel we are on the right track.  D is being seen as a communication partner  rather then someone who needs leading around.

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