Autism Society records most keynote and concurrent sessions at their annual conferences. You can see and hear those recordings by purchasing full online access, or individual recordings.
All NYFAC recreational programming are considered a “family affair”. Typically developing siblings, and other family members, including parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts are encouraged to participate in all areas of the program. In this way we can teach, support and encourage positive behaviors, actions, and verbalizations from the child affected by autism.
NYFAC recreational programming does not stop there. There are huge benefits to all those who participate in this process.
Typical Developing siblings- These children often feel “left out” of the teaching process. Many children we interview say that they feel “neglected” or “alone” when it comes to their special needs sibling. In our recreational programs we rely on peer level teaching and the interaction of typically developing children in the teaching process. These siblings are left with a feeling of not only being included in the process but of having a meaningful contribution to the success of their sibling. One young girl we observed was overjoyed when her brother was able to hit a tennis ball over the net unassisted. She yelled out “See I knew he could do it!” Another young boy was seen to actually go over and assist his sibling in hitting a baseball of the tee. The parents comment, “We never saw him helping like this before!”
Overall the inclusion of typically developing children has proved over and over again to be an essential part of the learning process for children diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Parents- Very often parents are left to stand on the sidelines when it comes to their “special needs” child. While at therapists office, or while at school, parents are generally not included in these processes. We as parents have had to become “parent experts” and very often are the only ones who know what is best or appropriate for our children. NYFAC recreational programming not only includes parents in the teaching process but mandates it. There is nothing more special than the look on a fathers face when his son (with autism) is able to hit the baseball and run to first base unassisted. (I should know I am the parent of a beautiful eight year old with autism named Anthony). How do you measure the feeling that any parent has when they see any child achieve? Well multiply that by ten because most times these children would not have the opportunity to engage in any of these structured recreational activities.
On another front, parents have an opportunity to meet each other, make friends, and develop bonds that often result in positive friendships.
Content Area: Social Skills
Andrew Baumann, M.A., ICADC, FAPA
President and CEO
New York Families for Autistic Children