A while back I got an email from a parent concerned that her child with Asperger’s Syndrome did not have friends at school and wanted suggestions on how to help her child have a social life.
Here are some suggestions I came up with:
- Is there a service learning class or Key Club (check with a guidance counselor) where a peer could be designated “friend” who might touch base in the morning and afternoon with your daughter. Maybe say hi during lunchtime etc. Usually this student gets service credit for this.
- Do you know anyone who is homeschooling his or her children who have a child around your daughter’s age? They usually like to do service work and could be a “big sister” to your daughter. I had one home school student who actually came to my class once a week for the year to work with one of my students with autism. She would help him with classwork or play board games when he earned a reward.
- Is there any activity that your daughter could volunteer doing on the weekends? My daughter volunteered at the zoo. Some of my students volunteered at the humane society and at nursing homes. It was easier for them to develop friendships with older ages and then slowly adapt the social skills to ones closer to their own age.
- I had one student who was diagnosed with Asperger’s and I helped her do research about it so she could learn more about it. Then I helped her develop a presentation to give to others explaining it so others could learn not to “fear” her and to better understand her. It took time (a few years) but eventually she entered the high school talent contest doing stand up comedy and the whole audience gave her a standing ovation! This same student talked to the psychology classes as a guest speaker.
- Are there any local groups she can join? Girl scouts? Youth group at church? Our public library has regular activities for teens also.
- Does your daughter have an IEP? Her transition goals should start addressing her personal needs in recreation. How will the school address these needs?
- Is your daughter taking medication or seeing a doctor regularly? The doctor may have suggestions.
- Do you have a state agency like the Department of Disabilities and Special Needs? They may be helpful in giving you ideas and resources.
Do you have any other suggestions that might help this parent? Please share.