BAC Friends is a volunteer peer socialization after-school program designed to foster an inclusive environment where we enhance social interaction and communication between individuals with autism and their typically developing peers in a fun, engaging, and inspiring setting.
All children need friends. We aim to create a community of acceptance, a community that better understands autism and embraces diversity. Everyone is different in their own way and developing good friendships means accepting differences.
BENEFITS OF THE PROGRAM
Peer socialization and play experiences are a vital part of all children’s learning, development and culture. BAC students get the opportunity to learn and practice socialization and communication through interactions with peers. They are introduced to pro-social communication strategies that enhance social relations inside and outside the school, and reduce feelings of isolation. They learn attending skills, sharing, initiation, following instructions, social cues, boundaries, and modeling good behavior. They participate in mutually engaging activities that encourage interaction, communication, learning and fun.
The program teaches typically developing peers the unique and complex challenges individuals on the spectrum experience. They learn to recognize and accept differences in themselves by identifying their own affinities (strengths or gifts) and their own challenges (weaknesses or disabilities) and recognizing that we are all different in our own way. They learn mentoring skills, problem solving techniques, how to give direction and reinforcement, and how to manage challenging behavior.
Being a volunteer for BAC Friends is a commitment and means accepting the responsibilities to yourself and to the students at the Brooklyn Autism Center that will come to rely on your weekly visits. This program is very important for our students’ growth and we can only make it the best program possible when all volunteers and parents pitch in and honor their responsibilities.