Friendship and play are central to the learning and happiness of all children. They promote emotional, social and physical development and help children build positive self-esteem. For children with disabilities, social inclusion is particularly important and can play a crucial role in helping them grow into valued and contributing members of their community. Friendship doesn’t always look the same – it may involve more parallel play without much verbal interaction, require very short, structured playdates or focus on virtual connections through a shared interested in video games. The CLKD Family support team has gathered some resources that parents can use to help their children prepare for and benefit from the joys of friendship and play.
5 Ways to Help Your Child Make Friends Many parents wonder what they can do to help their children make or keep friends. This article, written by former broadcaster Patricia Tomasi, lays out 5 concrete steps parents can take to support their children to develop friendships, including enrolling themselves in a social skill program to help model behaviours for their children. Read More
AutismOntario Webinar – Building Friendships through Playdates Play-dates are an important part of childhood but they can fill some parents with dread or anxiety. This one-hour webinar focuses on positive steps that parents can take to prepare for and facilitate successful play dates. Topics include: practicing for a playdate, building skills, scaffolding and fading, peer-coaching and using schedules to structure playdates. Learn More
Free Social Stories about Friendship Dyan Robson, a Canadian mom of 2, writes the blog ‘And Next Comes L’ where she shares resources, information and tips on parenting neuro-diverse children. Dyan gathered together printable social stories and videos to help children learn about friendship, how to be a good friend and more. Download Social Stories
iBelong Website Created by L’Arche Canada, this great website helps individuals with intellectual disabilities develop lasting friendship. Geared towards young adults, the website also has sections for parents, educators and community members. Teens and young adults can use the website to learn what makes a good friend, where to find friends, how to plan get-togethers and how to stay in touch. More Information
The PEERS Program Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson developed the PEERS program in partnership with her colleagues at UCLA. PEERS is one of the few evidence-based social skill programs that can help individuals with developmental disabilities, particularly those with autism, to develop effective social skills. AutismOntario has created a webinar that explains the benefits of the PEERS Program: https://www.autismontario.com/node/684 Many organizations across Ontario offer the PEERS program, which combines group sessions for youth, social skills practice homework and weekly sessions for parents or caregivers. Due to COVID-19, many of these programs are running virtually and fees can be reimbursed through funding programs such as Passport or the Ontario Autism Program. To find upcoming course dates, please visit the following organizations: Connections SLP : https://connectionsslp.ca/our-services/ Kerry’s Place: https://www.kerrysplace.org/evidence-based-behavioural-services-2/ Woodview Services: https://woodview.ca/peers/