Wisdom of students

Today I was invited to speak with a group of 80 high school students.

School hasn't even started, and yet there they all were.  They had volunteered to come in to school and learn about how to be a peer support. As part of their training, I was invited to speak for an hour about how to support fellow students with autism. I so remember being that age and signing up to be a peer tutor (as we called it in the USA) myself.  I remember wishing someone could have give us some practical advice and guidance.

At the end of the hour, I gave each table group a piece of paper and challenged them to list 5 things they could do to be supportive of a fellow student with autism. Wow!  They really synthesised the information.
5 ideas from high schoolers for supporting peers with ASD
Here is what they wrote:

Write things down / Live subtitles / Write down what you are saying /Write down instructions for  clarity

Accommodate different learning styles / Check to see if they understand 

Give them the steps (don’t make them guess) / repeat instruction ( exactly) if needed

Break things down into steps / break things down

Give them task exemplars / offer personal examples

Understand that they may need a certain type of communication

Make/give them the most comfortable environment / be aware of physical changes in environment / provide space  / reduce noise

Pay attention to their triggers / recognise triggers

Remember there can be different interpretations – be open minded

Verbal explanations, share your thinking aloud

Make the invisible, visible

State the obvious / Make things clear

Be straight up – don’t avoid specific areas or topics

Communicate, clear communication, clarify

Be direct and honest

Raw honesty and be specific / Be honest – they appreciate that

Report incidents to teacher and make sure the student with autism is alright

Highlight key points / highlight important points

Make things visual / use visual aids / use gestures /provide visual cues / use pictures

Freeze time by making things visual

Keep in mind how sensitive and alert they might be

Give options to choose from

Be patient

Keep promises / don’t lie / careful phrasing

I can't even begin to say how proud I was to see their answers.  I am so excited about how they will take this information and apply it to their interactions with classmates, co-workers, friends, family members, and maybe even spouses in the future.