Watch out Walmart, here comes Circle of Friends!

January 12, 2018

Autism Action Partnership created the Circle of Friends program to help schools create social groups involving students with autism. With the grant, Lexington Middle School has been able to practice a variety of social skills with 6th, 7th, and 8th grade middle school students.  Our latest social experience was a visit to Walmart where students shopped for a peer in their Circle of Friends group.  I know this doesn’t sound like a typical social lesson, but it was a learning moment for several students. Many have not had the experience of shopping for another person in mind.  Even for adults it can be hard to set aside the things you love and shop for someone else.  With this activity we covered many topics such as shopping on a budget, keeping the person’s interests in mind, being aware of how much time you have to shop, how to deliver a gift, and how to appropriately respond to receiving a gift.  In addition, it was a good reminder for all the students to practice etiquette when in a large social setting. According to an article by Janet Walsh, “A child's social competence depends upon a number of factors including the child's social skills, social awareness, and self-confidence.” Finding a good social "niche" for some children can be a difficult task, but an important one. With the Circle of Friends group, we hope to provide an environment that fosters all of these factors. Next on our agenda is to practice the art of writing thank you notes!  We hope you enjoy the pictures as much as we enjoyed the activity!