Friend 2 Friend Autism Demystification® Model

calgary-herald-2007The Friend 2 Friend Autism Demystification® model was created to promote understanding, acceptance and empathy toward individuals with autism and related social communication needs and support our community to embrace all persons with autism as valuable, contributing members. This evidence-based model uses a systematic approach to educate both individuals with autism and their peer groups in an inclusive, fun, age-appropriate and sensitive manner.

What Is Autism Demystification®? The term was coined by the Friend 2 Friend model creator and refers to a process of providing information about the characteristics of autism in a nonjudgmental, generic way that supports a general knowledge or understanding of autism. Autism Demystification brings about a better understanding of autism in general and builds healthy levels of acceptance toward all individuals on the autism spectrum.

Friend 2 Friend’s Autism Demystification model promotes an understanding of neurodiversity by using affirmative language that supports participants view “different” as normal such as, “different kinds of minds” and “We are all different in our own way”. And works to promote empathy towards individuals on the autism spectrum using age appropriate tools [e.g., puppets and Simon Says game] to model, label, explain, and normalize characteristics of autism, while never singling out or identifying any one individual with autism. Empathy is the key to friendships and is one of the ultimate goals of the programs and the teaching model.

While the Friend 2 Friend Autism Demystification® model aims to shift perspectives and build empathy towards individuals with autism, just changing attitudes is not enough. The model also provides participants with concrete tools. “The Seven Friendship Tips teach participants prosocial communication strategies that enhance social interactions with individuals on the autism spectrum. We have found that when peers know to communicate and interact with an individual on the spectrum, they are more than willing and confident to do so.

The Friend 2 Friend Autism Demystification® model has been “kid-tested” since 2002 with over 150,000 children throughout BC participating in the program. With countless more through out satellite partners and publications worldwide.

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