Helping People Understand The World Of Autism
What exactly is 'Understanding My Friends With Autism'?Understanding My Friends with Autism is a workshop designed for children aged 5-11 to help them empathize with peers and siblings who have autism. It is not only an autism awareness program. The focus on acceptance and understanding of individuals who are different makes it an essential component to any school's anti-bullying curriculum. The rate of autism among children is now estimated to be as high as 1 in 54 boys and the incidence of bullying amongst this sector of the school population is at an alarmingly high rate of 66%, which is three times the rate of their neurotypical siblings and peers. If we are to address this issue and promote real acceptance of individuals with autism, we need to move the focus of autism awareness education away from 'what' autism is and focus on understanding 'why' children with autism sometimes act differently.
What makes your program unique?
Traditional autism awareness programs focus on the theory of 'what' autism is.and the specific behaviors associated with it. Understanding My Friends with Autism is an interactive program that uses simulation exercises to show children what it is like to live with sensory processing disorders and help them understand why they act they way they do.
What grade levels enjoy your program?
K-5 is the target audience, although adults working in the field of mental health have found the program enjoyable and thought-provoking (see "Things people say about us")
There are currently two versions of Understanding My Friends With Autism.
You choose the version(s) of the program to be incorporated into the presentation.
- The first version revolves around a puppet named Charlene so it is more appropriate for grades K-2.
In the second version, the puppet is replaced by a young girl named Charlene. This is more age appropriate for grades 3-5. The content is identical.
I am currently working on a more in depth version for ages 12 and up.
What are your qualifications as a presenter?
I have a BA Honors Degree in English and Education from Oxford Brookes University in England and spent my career in training and program development for companies such as Sony. I also have a 13 year old son with Autism , so I have personal experience of this subject.
How long is each presentation?
Each presentation is 45-60 minutes long. (Video presentation, simulation exercises and group discussion)
It’s best to schedule presentations at least 90 minutes apart to allow for set up between groups.
How many participants can you accommodate in each presentation?
Due to the interactive nature of the presentation, I prefer to limit group size to a maximum of 50.
What do you need to have set up for your presentation?
It is not necessary for you to make any special preparations for the presentation. All I need is a presentation space with an accessible electrical outlet, a table for my projector and enough room for the participants to move around a little.
The quality of the video is enhanced in a room that can be partially darkened, but it is not essential.
I need approximately 40 minutes for initial set up, so I need access to the space at least 45 minutes before the first presentation. Set up between presentations takes approximately 30 minutes.
What do you bring?
I bring a full size projection screen and multimedia projector for the video presentation.
I also provide a packet for each participant that includes a foam covered clipboard, a pencil, an oven glove, a drawing activity, a pair of 'magic glasses' ,some sandpaper and a social story coloring book. The children keep the 'magic glasses' and coloring book to remind them of the session and reinforce the issues discussed.
Obviously, whenever necessary, I also bring my puppet, Charlene!
How much do you charge?
My fees are reasonable and affordable and fit into the budget of most schools. Presentations can be as affordable as $4 per child (minimum $120 per location) which includes the presentation, the 'magic glasses' and social story coloring book for the children to take home.
How far do you travel? Do you charge travel fees?
I live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Currently I am only able to present the program in Pennsylvania. (Having said that, I am devoted to increasing understanding, empathy and acceptance of children with autism so please contact me if you are interested in utilizing the presentation in other areas. I will do what I can to make it happen!)
I charge a travel fee of $0.55 per mile (to and from your location). I charge an additional $120 per night for accommodation where absolutely necessary.
How do I schedule a program?
You can complete the presentation request form or contact me at (570) 592 3694 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your interest in 'Understanding My Friends With Autism' and I look forward to talking to you soon!