A couple weeks ago, I was interviewed by a reporter for our local paper about a program I had launched last September at Noe's school. The program is called Peer Pals and it matches kids in the autism classrooms with general ed peers. The kids eat lunch together once a week, attend assemblies together and do other weekly classroom activities, some more academic than others. Starting the program was partly selfish on my part - Noe is only included in a general ed classroom for part of the day and I desperately want him to have more typical peer models. Many of socialization goals on his IEP require learning to interact with peers, so I wanted to him to have every opportunity to reach these goals.
The program has been a great success and the teachers have really embraced it, despite the extra burden of work placed on them. At the end of the school year, I organized an ice cream sundae party for the kids, which they all loved. Gluten/casein free ice cream, anyone? Noe's peer pal, Sarah, is a great kid and we have been lucky to get to know her. We already have some summer pool dates scheduled for her and Noe.
The article was published while we were on vacation, but one of Noe's teachers sent me the link here.