Spotlight on Peer Awareness Training

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Research shows that inclusive settings have many benefits for both students with and without disabilities. Did you know that UF CARD offers trainings to individuals of all ages? We can offer trainings to small or large groups, on a variety of topics including: What is autism, how to be a friend to someone with autism, how to develop peer buddy and mentor programs, and more. We encourage you to invite a UF CARD staff person to speak to your students and help facilitate peer awareness!

Resources

Videos

A Teen’s Guide To Autism

Sensory Overload

Amazing Things Happen

What’s up with Nick?

Autism Explained for Kids

Marvelous Max – Autism Awareness for Kids

Books

Autism is…?
Ymkje Wideman-van der Laan and Rob Feldman
Logan overhears his grandma tell her friend he has autism, and he asks her, ”Autism is…?” She explains it to him in this beautifully illustrated story. Ages 4-8, Grades Pre-K through 3.

Taking Autism to School
Adreanna Edwards
These beautifully illustrated and fun-to-read storybooks simplify and normalize complicated childhood conditions, like autism. When read aloud, other children can identify why a peer may be treated differently and begin to empathize with them. In addition, children whose conditions set them apart as being different begin to feel accepted and safe. Each book includes a Kids’ Quiz to reinforce new information and Ten Tips for Teachers to provide additional facts and ideas for teacher use. This book educates children about autism, a complex and often misunderstood condition. The story describes what life is like for a child with autism. Ages 3 and up, reading level 3-4.

My Friend with Autism
Beverly Bishop
This book’s vivid illustrations and charming storyline will foster tolerance and understanding among peers, while the printable coloring pages will enlighten and engage learners! My Friend with Autism is the exceptional result of parent Beverly Bishop’s determination to educate her son’s classmates about autism, thus helping her son fit in at school. A peer narrator explains that his friend with autism is good at some things and not so good at others―just like everyone else! In an informative, positive tone, he addresses issues such as: Sensory Sensitivity, Communication Differences, Unique Ways of Playing, and Insistence on Routine. At the end of the book are page-by-page notes for adults, which supplement the text with facts and explanations to further educate teachers and classmates’ parents. Ages 7-9, grade level 2-4.

The Autism Acceptance Book
Ellen Sabin
An activity book, a conversation-starter and an educational tool that teaches children about autism, develops their understanding and empathy for their peers facing this challenge, and engages them in learning to embrace people’s differences with respect, compassion and kindness. Ages 6-13, grade level 1-4.

A Friend Like Simon
Kate Gaynot
This is a special education children’s picture books that introduces autism. When an autistic child joins a mainstream school, many children can find it difficult to understand and cope with a student that is somewhat ‘different’ to them. This story encourages other children to be mindful and patient of the differences that exist and to also appreciate the positive contribution that an autistic child can make to the group. Ages 4-8, grades Pre-K through 3.

I See Things Differently
Pat Thomas
Psychotherapist and counselor Pat Thomas puts her gentle, yet straightforward approach to work in this new addition to Barron’s highly acclaimed A First Look At…Series. This book will help children understand what autism is and how it affects someone who has it. A wonderful catalyst for discussion that will help children to better understand and support autistic classmates or siblings. The story line is simple and easily accessible to younger children, who will learn that exploring the personal feelings around social issues is a first step in dealing with them. Full-color illustrations on every page. Ages 4-7, grades Pre-K through 2.

Uniquely Wired
Julia Cook
Zak is obsessed with watches. Before that it was trains. He owns hundreds of watches and is quick to tell everyone everything about them. Zak also has autism, so he sometimes responds to the world around him in unconventional ways. As Zak describes his point of view, young readers gain a better understanding of his behaviors and learn valuable lessons about patience, tolerance and understanding. Ages 8-12, Grades K-5.

Since We’re Friends: An autism picture book
Celeste Shally and David Harrington
Matt’s autism doesn’t keep him from having fun! Even when he struggles in social situations, his friend is there to help him out. The two boys love playing sports watching movies, reading books, and talking about animals. By working together, a best friend’s understanding and compassion change Matt’s frustration into excitement. No matter where they go―from the basketball court to the playground swings to the neighborhood pool―the two friends enjoy spending time with each other. David Harrington’s bright illustrations delightfully compliment Celeste Shally’s sweet and touching story of friendship. This book is the perfect guide for parents and children to better understand people with autism spectrum disorder. Ages 4-8, grades Pre-K through 3.

Hello My Name is Max and I Have Autism
Max Miller
Hello, My Name is Max and I Have Autism is a beautifully composed collection of essays and drawings by Max Miller, a 12 year old boy on the autism spectrum. Max eloquently explains to the reader about what life is like with autism, providing insight into the autistic mind through the words and drawings of a child on the spectrum. Max’s work is powerful and honest. It is unique as it is a book written by a child without prompting or direction. His words are straight from the heart. It is a must-own for any educator, parent, or loved one impacted by autism. Hello, My Name is Max and I Have Autism is a story full of hope and gives a glimpse into life on the spectrum as can only be told from personal experience. Written with the intent of advocating for others with ASD, Max hopes to create compassion, awareness and understanding for all autistic children. His words and pictures not only break down barriers, but show how children with ASD are not so different from other kids. They just need a little extra patience. Best of all, children who are on the spectrum can identify with Max’s stories and know that they are not alone. The book addresses common questions children ask such as “How did you get autism? Will it go away? What makes you happy? Can you be happy? Why do you take things so literally?” Max answers each question with a drawing and an essay. His answers are raw, true and evoke emotion. The reader will derive a deeper understanding about autism as well as greater compassion for those who live with ASD. Ages 8-12, grades 3-7.

A is for Autism, F is for Friend
Joanna L. Keating-Felasco
Does your child understand that children with classic autism are just children who want friends? A is for Autism, F is for Friend: A Kid s Book for Making Friends with a Child Who Has Autism provides an inside look at the life of Chelsea, a young girl who has classic autism. In this book, Chelsea walks us through her day, including trips to the playground and park, and explains that although she sees other kids playing and wants to join them, social interaction can be tricky for her. In sharing some of her strengths and challenges, Chelsea compares them with issues that all kids face, highlighting the many things she and her schoolmates have in common. One of the goals of this book to is help typical children understand that they experience that, too! A is for Autism, F is for Friend provides an enjoyable, discussion-oriented format for teaching youth about autism. Ages 8-12, grades 3-7.

Ethan’s Story: My life with autism
Ethan Rice and Crystal Ord
When Ethan Rice was four years old, he was diagnosed with high-functioning autism. He decided that he wanted to tell his first grade class that he had autism on his seventh birthday. His parents asked him many questions about what having autism felt like for him and wrote his answers down as a reference for when he told his class. Those answers are now published so more people can understand what it is like to have autism. While each child on the spectrum has unique challenges and strengths, Ethan’s Story; My Life with Autism is Ethan’s own story. A children’s book written by eight year old Ethan Rice who happens to be autistic. In this fully illustrated book Ethan explains what autism means to him and why he feels so very blessed that God made him this way. Late elementary, Christian perspective.

Friends Are…?
Ymkje Wideman-van der Laan and Jennifer Lackgren
Children on the autism spectrum often want to interact with other children, but they sometimes have trouble making friends. Learning how to foster appropriate friendships can avoid problems as they grow older, prevent bullying, and lead to better relationships with peers with or without autism—and the earlier these skills are learned, the better. Typically-developing children usually learn social skills naturally and in a spontaneous way, by watching and mingling with everyone around them, but children with autism may need to learn these skills in a more tangible way, through social stories, role play, and other means. Age level 3-12, Grade Level: P-6

Amazingly Alphie
Roz Espin
In this brightly illustrated book, readers are introduced to Alphie, a computer that is wired differently and has trouble fitting in and performing successfully in the world around him. After beginning to doubt his self-worth and his ability to do anything right, Alphie finally meets a human, Chris, who has been hired to fix the malfunctioning computers in the lab. Chris patient and accepting approach totally changes Alphie’s life. Alphie starts to realize that being different is what makes him special, and soon he is free to use his abilities to their fullest free to be who he was meant to be. Written for children ages 8 and up, the book fosters tolerance and acceptance while celebrating differences. It is a perfect addition to any family and school reading. Ages 8 and up.

Peer Support Strategies for Improving All Students’ Social Lives and Learning
Erik W. Carter Ph.D., Lisa S. Cushing Ph.D., BCBA, Craig H. Kennedy Ph.D., BCBA

Peer Buddy Programs for Successful Secondary School Inclusion
Carolyn Hughes Ph.D., Erik W. Carter Ph.D.

We hope you found this brief spotlight informative and relevant.  If you would like more in depth training about this topic or another, please submit a training request. Please share feedback with us!