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Using student’s interests to make a connection

The Social Model of Wellbeing for Autistic Individuals (Steve Andrews), suggests that there are seven key areas for positive wellbeing, with one of these being ‘positive social connections’.

There is this myth that autistic people don’t want, or need, connections, but this is simply not true.  In fact, a lack of social interactions with supportive peers can lead to social isolation and poor wellbeing.  Supportive peers are key here.   For an individual to gain something from a social interaction, they must feel accepted and a sense of belonging – feeling that they are being seen in an unconditional positive regard.

So often, young people are told to change, to fit into a ‘norm’ that society has created, but this may not always align with their interests and preferences.  It is key for the adult to work from the young person’s starting point and this can be done by getting involved in their interests.

 

In one-to-one sessions, staff members from the Autism Service tailor the activities to suit the young person’s interests, whether that is art, music, Pokémon or lamp posts.  Validating their interests and connecting with them over a guitar or splattering paint, can help to build a positive relationship, with the young person then being more likely to share their thoughts and feelings.

If you would like one-to-one sessions for a student in your setting, please contact theautismservice@cognus.org.uk