Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sometimes my Friend James Makes me HAPPY/ Sometimes my Friend James Makes me SAD

In my never ending attempt to create a good environment for James at school, this year in addition to the every popular teachers letters >here< and >here<, I am also tackling the kids in his class.  Last year we took a, "Let's wait and see how it goes without anyone being told about his Autism" approach.  We let the cat out of the bag on the last day of school >here<.  Needless to say, this year we are approaching it from a different angle to empower the kids to know how to be friends with a child with Autism. 
I found this nice write up on the Autism Speaks website (I know that there is a lot of controversy around this site but there is a lot of great information there too!)

How To Be a Friend to Someone With Autism 
> Take the Initiative to Include Him or Her - Your friend may desperately
want to be included and may not know how to ask.  Be specific about what
you want him to do.
> Find Common Interests - It will be much easier to talk about or share
something you both like to do (movies, sports, music, books, TV shows, etc.).
> Be Persistent and Patient - Remember that your friend with autism may take
more time to respond than other people.  It doesn’t necessarily mean he or
she isn’t interested.
> Communicate Clearly - Speak at a reasonable speed and volume.  It might
be helpful to use short sentences.  Use gestures, pictures, and facial
expressions to help communicate.  Speak literally – do not use confusing
figures of speech (He may truthfully tell you, “the sky” if you ask “What’s up?”)
> Stand Up For Him or Her - If you see someone teasing or bullying a friend
with autism, take a stand and tell the person that it’s not cool.
> Remember Sensory Sensitivity - Your friend may be very uncomfortable in
certain situations or places (crowds, noisy areas, etc.).  Ask if he or she is
OK.  Sometimes your friend may need a break.
> Give Feedback - If your friend with autism is doing something inappropriate,
it’s OK to tell him nicely.  Just be sure to also tell him what the right thing to
do is because he may not know.
> Don’t Be Afraid - Your friend is just a kid like you who needs a little help.
Accept his or her differences and respect strengths just as you would for any
Adapted, Peter Faustino
Here are some of my additions...
Sometimes my Friend James Makes me HAPPY
I like James and sometimes he makes me happy 
because of something he says or does.  
Let me tell you about what makes me happy.

Sometimes my Friend James Makes me SAD
I like James and sometimes he makes me sad 
because of something he says or does.  
What should I do when he makes me sad?

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