“The process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.”

Let’s face it, transitions are hard. We do many things to avoid transitions. When we cannot avoid them, we prepare for them. While in the midst of a transition, we all exhibit many behaviours that express our internal state such as crying, and behaviours that keep us well-regulated during the transition such as going for a walk.

Some transitions have a huge impact on our lives, while others are part of daily routines. Regardless of the impact of the transition, transition cause us varying amounts of stress.

Life is a never-ending transition. Therefore, attempting to avoid or postpone them is never going to make transitions easier. In fact, it will make them much harder. The good news is we can make transitions easier – it is all in the prep.

At the Friend 2 Friend Play Centre we have a saying, “Prepare 100%, use 30%” This means we prepare as much as we can for every eventuality to ensure the children and youths that we support are successful. Even if we only use 30% of what we have prepared, we know we have done all we can.

If you are a parent of an individual with autism, think about all the transitions your child experiences in a single day. Are you preparing 100% for all those transitions?

Here are some transition strategies that may make transition easier for your child and you for you:

  • Provide and review a visual schedule prior to the transition,
  • Provide and review a Social Story® about the transition and / or the upcoming activity prior to the transition,
  • Offer your child closed choices giving them a sense of control over the transition,
  • Carry a transition object – holding a beloved object, phone, iPad etc will help distract your child during transitions lowering their anxiety
  • Plan an exit strategy with your child – come up with a plan of action before they become dysregulated,
  • Respect your child’s wishes – if your child puts on the breaks, slow down, listen and respect their needs.

While we cannot control all the transitions that we will face in our lives, we can prepare, prepare, prepare thus making those transitions a little smoother on ourselves and our children.



Giving Tuesday is All About Giving Time

The definition of “give” states: to freely transfer the possession of (something) to (someone). While most of us think to give means to give money, it is only in the running of a charity that you truly understand the meaning of “give”. 

Giving Tuesday is All About Giving Time

Time is a most valuable thing we can give to anyone or anything. The Team at Friend 2 Friend Social Learning Society knows all about the value of giving time.  That is because we spend a lot of time giving to the children with and without autism and families we support.

The Friend 2 Friend Team gives our time to:

Understand each unique individual child for who they are.

Know and understand each child’s affinity.

Create materials and play themes that are affinity based so that children are natural drawn to engage with them.

Assess each child’s unique needschallenges and gifts and then to design an individualized program for each child.

Support families not only in understanding our programs, but also ensuring they have resources they need from the community.

Ensure the Play Centres have materials that are engaging and fun to support the development of play and friendships.

Ensure the Play Centres are designed well, are clean and tidy making them a fun and safe place to play and make friends.

Find and build new Play Centre locations in an effort to meet the overwhelming demand for our unique peer play programs.

Create new programs to meet the need for our programs world-wide.

Train play guides to ensure the staff is well trained and able to provide programs.

Train others, around the world, who want to use our programs and models with children in their community.

And finally, we give our time to raise money. Money that ensures we have the time needed to support children with autism to play, make friends and feel accepted for who they are within their schools and communities.

Therefore, this year on Giving Tuesday November 28 regardless of which charity you give to, remember that Giving Tuesday is All About Giving Time.


New Family Training Online

New Family Training Online

New Family Training Online course is offered to families (parents, grandparents, primary caregivers) of children with autism and related needs ages 3 through 18.

This self-directed course enables families to access our online parent training completely free of charge at any time from the convenience of their own home. The online session takes approximately 60-minutes to complete, and includes the following information:

Introduction to Friend 2 Friend Social Learning Society
Tips for Parents
Demystifying Autism
Overview of our Play Centre Programs

The goal of the session is to support families to better understand autism and provide helpful tips and strategies as they support their child’s unique social, communication and peer play needs. In addition, the session provides families with information about our Play Centre programs.

To register for our Free Family Training Online Click Here

Peers are a Necessity Not a Luxury for Children with Autism

At school this week during lunch break Jason approached an older boy. Attempting to initiate play with the boy, Jason asks, “Would you like to hear a song?” The older boy answers, “Yes”.  Jason proceeded to sing his song. The older boy tells him to stop. However, Jason has the kind of mind that autism. Therefore, once he has started a song – he must finish the song. And Jason keeps singing. The older boy says, “If you don’t stop I will hit you”.  Jason is completely caught off guard (he considered the social interaction to be a very positive one), and runs away. The older boy chases him. Jason, terrified, screams at the top of his lungs and continues to run.

“I screamed so loud I lost my voice”, Jason says to the playground teacher when asking for help. The playground teacher answers, “I told you not to sing that song”.  

Luckily, Jason attends the Integrated Play Groups® program at the Friend 2 Friend Play Centre with Cayleigh, one of his classmates and an expert player. Cayleigh hears Jason screaming from across the playground and comes to his aid. She locates Jason, helps him to feel better, and takes him to the office where he can call his mother.

Peers are a Necessity Not a Luxury for Children with Autism

However, in recent years, more emphasis has been placed on behavioural interventions and teaching individuals with autism ‘social skills’. But at Friend 2 Friend we have always known that peer play and friendships are a necessity for children with autism. Therefore, we have made friendships the focus of our programs and services for more than 15 years. Our programs concentrate on teaching peers how to understand, accept, empathize and play with their peers on the autism continuum. We work to develop empathy to change the minds, attitudes and skills of the typically developing peers as a means of intervention.
Individuals with autism have unique social and communication needs. This makes the development of the peer play and friendships between children with autism and peers a necessity not a luxury. While peer play and friendships are important for social and emotional growth, friendships are important to children’s health and safety as well.

“Peers are a necessity not a luxury in human development” W.W. Hartup

Want to learn more? Autism Demystification® Online Course

Julia is Old Hat to US

I must admit I have been avoiding watching ‘Julia’, the new puppet with autism on Sesame Street. You see Julia is old hat to us because for over the past 17 years we have been creating and delivering the Autism Demystification® Puppet Programs. During these years, I have seen a lot of “takes” on autism in pop culture. Unfortunately, most of these “takes” were epic fails, adding to stereo types and increasing the “us vs. them” attitudes.

So, I avoided watching Julia. My worry was that Sesame Street’s new character would undo all our hard work. However, I was pleasantly surprised at Sesame Street’s take. I only cringed twice during the episode LOL. Even though they are not teaching prosocial communication strategies, as Ollie, a
10-year-old with autism reminded us the other day. After watching the Julia episode, he pointed out, “Mom, they forgot to use Friendship Tip #4 –
they were going too fast, they need to wait for Julia to answer”.

While not “innovative”, I applaud Sesame Street for their addition of Julia. Julia does represent changing attitudes – and this is wonderful.

When I started developing and delivering our Autism Demystification® Puppet Program more than 15 years ago, educators freaked out at the puppet using the word autism. Yes, that is correct,  many requested we drop the word autism from the program completely.  It was like the puppets were using a 4-letter word. Also, when we started delivering our Autism Demystification® Puppet Program more than 15 years ago, self-regulating behaviours where called “stims”, dysregulation was called “melt downs” or “tantrums”, and affinities were called “perseverations”.

The focus in the autism community at that time was “cure”.  You needed to “fix your broken child” through an intensive 40 hours a week of “behavioural modification”. However, Friend 2 Friend Social Learning Society took a completely different approach. Our focus was on understanding, acceptance and building empathy and friendships. We have worked hard over the past 15 years to change misconceptions and demystify autism. I am proud to be able to see evidence that we have been successful.

So, while Julia may seem cutting edge to the world, Julia is old hat to us at Friend 2 Friend who have had many Julia’s over the past 15 years. In fact, their names are: Min, Freddie, Angela and Angus. And of course, You Don’t Know, Jack! (animations by Iain Robbins).

Want to learn more? Autism Demystification Online Course

Free Autism Demystification Online Course for BC Communities

In celebration of World Autism Awareness Month, Friend 2 Friend Social Learning Society offers Free Autism Demystification Online Course for BC Communities. Friend 2 Friend will provide schools, school districts and other not for profit organizations our free BC Communities Capacity Program through our Autism Demystification Online Course.

Each year Friend 2 Friend Social Learning provides 5 Communities in BC with our BC Communities Capacity Building Program. This year we will offer our new Autism Demystification® Online Course  free to 5 schools, school districts or other not for profit organizations in BC.

This program provides participants with the knowledge, tools and techniques to implement the Friend 2 Friend Autism Demystification® Puppet Program curriculum with children aged 3 through 11. And works to address the needs of rural communities throughout BC by providing the training and tools to implement our Autism Demystification® Programs with children ages 3 to 11.

Participants from BC organizations will receive 14-day access to this self-directed, interactive online course that includes the following learning modules: Module 1: Introduction, Module 2: About the Society, Module 3: Guiding Principles, Module 4: What Does it Feel Like to Have Autism?, Module 5: Implementing the Program, Module 6: Wrap Up

Upon completion of the course, participants have access to a digital copy of the packaged curriculum including: the puppet play video entitled “You Don’t Know, Jack”, a course manual, and a children’s colouring story book adapted from the puppet play, as well as downloadable support materials.

 For information on whether your organization would qualify Free Autism Demystification Online Course for BC Communities program please contact our office.