Everyone likes to have friends. For autistic kids, making friends often is not easy. Conversely, for their typical peers, getting to know autistic kids can be hard. In an effort to reduce those barriers, OAR is releasing a series of one-page friendship tip sheets is geared towards helping non-autistic kids be understanding, supportive friends to their autistic peers. The tip sheets, released in honor of OAR’s 19th birthday, are new additions to the highly successful Kit for Kids peer education program.
The tip sheets will be available for download on OAR’s birthday, December 13th, and will be available in hard copy in the new year. They are geared to students in four different grade ranges, K-1, 2-3, 4-5, and 6-8, to account for variances in social development and language comprehension. The tip sheets cover topics such as bullying, disclosure, difference and diversity, and inclusivity. They use engaging visuals, activities, and reflection questions to capture children’s attention and promote discussion.
They describe some of the communication barriers and sensory differences that can cause misunderstandings between autistic and non-autistic kids and provide clear, actionable steps that focus on what autistic individuals want their peers to know. Ideally, the information on the tip sheets will help typical kids enthusiastically embrace their friends’ differences in day-to-day life and enable them to help their friends with autism feel more comfortable and supported.
OAR’s Kit for Kids is a set of peer education materials that teaches elementary and middle school students about their peers with autism. Its goal is to promote more inclusive classrooms where students with autism are respected and valued, leading to better outcomes (e.g. decreased incidences of bullying) for everyone. More than 135,000 students across the United States have already accessed the Kit for Kids.
OAR extends its gratitude to the community of educators, researchers, parents, and autistic self-advocates who contributed to the writing and review process for the tip sheets, including Sean Bentley, Ben VanHook, Sterling Ramsey, Jason Dine, Genevieve Dine, Kathy Weber, Bekki Grieve, Joanna Mussey, Carla Wyrsch, Brooke Traitz, Laurie Rawson, Denise Davidson, and Shannon Rouff.