When kids are at school they want to be accepted. they don’t want to be the outsider, they don’t want to feel alone, they want to be noticed a positive way. I have a 13 year old who is on the spectrum. He wants to have friends, he wants to be accepted, even if it’s only kids sitting next to him and saying Hi. Simple actions that let him know that he has friends. I was extremely worried about him going to a new school last year as a 7th grader. His teachers and aides spoke very highly of him and were always talking about him and his friends. He never talked about his friends so I wasn’t sure. Last week we took his sister to register for 6th grade. There were at least 30 kids who came uptown him and said Hi, gave him a high five, or a secret handshake. He was so excited and my heart melted to see a kid who is different be widely accepted by his peers, and not just any peers….middle school peers!
Along with going over emotions at the beginning of the year, I take a lot of time to go over how we are each different, but we are all human. We talk about our different likes, how we may react differently, and how we have different strengths and weaknesses. We talk about how to lift each other up, help each other, and what being an up stander means. We work hard to build an accepting classroom culture. I have pictured some of the books below that I use during these lessons.