Our first family support group went really well! We had sisters and brothers join us with their parents and show support to their siblings and others in the group.
First as the families were getting together and settling in, we asked each one of them to make their own name tags. We had some creative ones made by the little ones and some liked to add a personal touch with a drawing.
We all gathered in a circle for the first activity. This activity required for each member to have 5 wrapped colored candies, each color had a corresponding question. My favorite question was “what’s one thing you love about your sibling or child with autism ?” This brought up many discussions and showed us how the child with autism is being loved at home.
The second activity required a stuffed animal to be tossed around the group. Each person holding the teddy bear was asked to say a statement, and each person from the group would raise their hand if they would feel the same regarding the statement. We noticed how most of us shared common interests and felt the same way.
The third activity required some socks, beans, and rice (not cooked), this activity made some hungry but it was great to hear that most of them knew the motive of the activity once it was done. The group was asked to wear a sock on one hand and try to pick out the beans out of the rice. Some were able to pick out around 40 beans in 30 seconds and some were able to pick out 7 beans. They all expressed how it was difficult, frustrating, and complicated to use their hand while having a sock on their hand. However, it was easier picking out the beans from the rice when they did not have a sock on. It was great to see how they were able to relate to the child with autism and how they feel when they can not communicate or interact with others.
This afternoon the teachers came on time for the support group, they were all excited to get started in the activities. We had the teachers do similar activities that we did earlier with the families. The teachers expressed the concerns they had and difficulties they went through last year with some of their students. It was great to hear their stories and we did our best to help them by giving them strategies to use in the following school year.
We keep telling families and teachers “ everything you learn you can use on all of your students/children” and Christina assured them that not only on children but these strategies can also be used on their spouse. They were very excited about that as many of our parents and teachers want to change their spouses’ behavior!