Friend 2 Friend Social Learning Society is a not-for-profit charity organization established in 2002, founded on the mission to enhance reciprocal social interaction, communication, imaginative play, and friendships between individuals on the autism spectrum and their typically developing peers. Friend 2 Friend provides a broad variety of unique and innovative programs and services to children and adults in schools and other community settings throughout British Columbia, Canada and the United States.
Friend 2 Friend Social Learning Society has developed and currently provides programs designed to demystify autism spectrum and related social-communication disorders and to promote understanding, acceptance, empathy, and mutual rewarding friendship for all children ages 3 to 18. Friend 2 Friend’s Program Guides visit schools and other community settings providing peer education and direct support to help typical children understand “what it feels like to have ASD [Autism Spectrum Disorder]” and to teach children specific friendship skills that can help them play and socialize with a peer with ASD.
Their Puppet Presentation Program Can I Play Too? is a unique and innovative autism demystification/educational program designed to foster social inclusion, play, and friendships for children on the autism spectrum (and related social communication needs) ages 3 through 11. The program promotes understanding, acceptance, and empathy towards individuals on the autism spectrum while introducing pro-social communication strategies to enhance peer social relations.
Bryce’s school brought in the Friend 2 Friend Social Learning Society’s Can I Play Too? presentation to help educate his fellow classmates about autism and being a friend to someone with autism. Let me start by saying that Bryce is completely loved and admired at his school, and all his classmates have nothing but nice things to say about him, but there is that parent and advocate part of me that wants them to know more about autism so they can get to know more about Bryce, and other children who have autism, and learn how to better interact and be friends with people who have autism. I am very fortunate and thankful that his school arranged for this to happen.
Now I must admit that I was a teeny bit skeptical when I heard that this presentation involved puppets, as I thought it would be too silly and that it may ruin the realization of autism by using fictional characters to explain it. But after watching the presentation, the way they simplified what autism was, the way they emphasized how we all have different kinds of minds, how they showcased excellent tips to being a friend to someone with autism, and the all together presentation, I honestly was quite impressed. I think the use of the puppets helped draw the attention of the children to the point that it wasn’t a ‘serious’ presentation, but rather a fun and interactive ‘learning without knowing you are learning’ presentation. I enjoyed it very much.
It can be hard for anyone to make friends, but it can be even harder for people to make friends with someone who has autism because they may not understand, or may even get lost in the process. I feel like this presentation helps eliminate a lot of the fears and confusion a child may have when they approach someone who has autism. The Friend 2 Friend Social Learning Society’s Can I Play Too? puppet presentation introduces you to a handful of characters that help explain autism in a very sensitive and respectful manner while demonstrating their 7 friendship tips to help you become a friend, or even a better friend, with someone who has autism.
I highly recommend the Friend 2 Friend Social Learning Society’s Can I Play Too? presentation to anyone. For more information about the Friend 2 Friend Social Learning Society, their autism demystification/educational programs, or their Integrated Play Groups model, please visit their website at www.friend2friendsociety.org.
Thanks for reading,