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Building Friendships in School

School can be a great place for kids to build lifelong friendships; however, for some kids it can also be a place where they feel very alone.  Cliques form early, kids make fun of each other, teasing and bullying occur daily.  School can be cruel.  It’s sad, but true.  If you have a child who is shy or struggles with social interactions it can be hard to build friendships.  The last thing a parent wants to find out is that their child is eating lunch alone and feels that no one likes them.  Parents cannot make friends for their kids; however, they can give them the tools to help them to build friendships. 

Some children, especially elementary aged kids, need help learning about social skills such as: empathy, sharing, problem solving, negotiating, and communication.  Many children that may have developmental delays or Autistic Spectrum disorders can also benefit from learning social skills. 

Parents can help their child facilitate friendships by doing things like hosting play dates with other kids from school or the neighborhood.  Allow the kids to have unstructured play time together to help develop their social skills.  Sometimes if a child gets to know another child through their parents, they will feel more comfortable pursuing a friendship. 

-Take your child on errands with you.  The more they are exposed to different kinds of people, the better they will learn to interact.
-Involve your child in sports.  Playing on a team with other kids can help your child develop teamwork skills and help them make friends.
-Be supportive of your child and listen to them.  Let your child know that some friends come and go and that developing friendships is a lifelong process.
-You can also show your child how to make good friends, by working to make good friends yourself.
-Teach your child to say hello and goodbye and to ask people their names.  Some children do not feel comfortable getting to know other kids because they have problems remembering their names.
-Encourage them to have eye contact with other people and to smile if someone compliments them and say thank you. 

According to Boys Town Pediatrics, there are several ways you can help your child to feel good about themselves:

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Autism vs. Awesome-ism©
By Dr. Melodee Loshbaugh, Co-founder & Executive Director of Brock’s Academy, Woodinville, WA

>What if we decided to just open our minds and see things from a wider, more diverse perspective?

>What if we didn't easily label and categorize people that we perceive to be different than us?

>What if we learned to think about people and differences as not right or wrong, but just different gifts?

>What if we fully believed and accepted that there is, and always has been, neurodiversity (i.e. cognitive differences) in the world?

>What if we accepted that neurodiversity is a brilliant achievement of Mother Nature?

>What if we entered each day believing each one of us is uniquely created and here to serve a higher purpose?

>What if we believed our job is to support one another in achieving that higher purpose?

>What if our differences are here to teach us appreciation, compassion, acceptance and to challenge us to stay open to all?

>What would that be like? # # #

Ryan, a 14-year old autistic student, writes:
>Meet me where I am.
>Stop trying to fix me. I don’t try to fix you.
>See my gifts, talents and strengths, not things you think I should have; see the “me” I was born with.
>Learn from me. Sit with me. Try to see the world from my perspective.
>Love me unconditionally and find ways to support me in what I came here to contribute to the world.
>Appreciate me.
>Just because I am experiencing the world in a different way than you are doesn’t mean it’s wrong, so stop judging me.
>I am me and I am beautiful.
>I am happy and I am whole. # # #

Copyright 2017—Dr. Melodee Loshbaugh
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