This week, our family topic is “Connecting your child with kids in school and the community” which follows up our March 16 blog about family. This topic has been The “Friends at School” toolkit makes this topic much more accessible; you can find it on our website. It was developed by Zach Rosetti, with assistance from Jim Ross, Mary Ann Brennan, and others.
Zach’s interest was sparked by his brother Todd. Throughout his school years, he was included in general education classrooms. As Zach notes, Todd was accepted by caring classmates. In fact, he was possibly the most popular or well-known student in each of his schools. Whenever Zach went out in the community with his family or with Todd, people would come over and say hi to him and they would explain their connection.
Despite his popularity, Zach notes that Todd was never called at home and he never hung out with friends outside of school. Zach reported a mother’s comment from a recent focus group that her son, too, was not befriended, but he was “extremely high-fived!”
Parents can play a facilitator role in friendship development. They can help with communication, as well as ensuring that there is reciprocity between potential friends. One-sided relationships are rarely long-lasting for any of us. In article for teachers (Teacher Education and Special Education, Gordon et al., Vol. 28, #1), the authors cited a recommendation that 25% of the school week be dedicated to this objective.
Please take advantage of the “Friends at School” toolkit. It will foster not only social acceptance and daily greetings, but meaningful interactions and authentic friendship between students with and without disabilities.