The School MATES Autism Programme

Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are often very isolated in school as difficulties with social-interaction, challenges with communication and a tendency to engage in repetitive behaviors are characteristics of this diagnosis. A very structured plan therefore needs to be implemented to support inclusion to help these students with their inability to socialise appropriately. This plan should have its goals and processes formalised. I propose that schools adopt The School MATES Autism Programme:

What Is The Purpose Of The School MATES Autism Programme?
High school can be socially challenging for all adolescents. It is so much more challenging for those on the autism spectrum. This programme is designed to assist these students overcome the huge social barriers that they face in school.

The purpose of The School MATES Autism Programme is to help students on the autism spectrum navigate the social labyrinth which is so alien to them.

A detailed training manual for teachers which outlines strategies, goals and processes is currently being written and will be available for schools to purchase from this site before the end of 2015. For more information regarding this programme, refer to Chapter 5 in the book “Dealing With Autism – How I Successfully Raised My Child and How You Can Too”

To register your interest, fill in your details below and I will contact you as soon as it is available, otherwise just keep checking on the website.

What Is The School MATES Autism Programme?
  1. The School MATES Autism Programme aims to establish a friendship between two students by pairing a student on the autism spectrum with another student who does not have an intellectual disability.
  2. The student without a disability is one who volunteers to participate in this programme, so the choice is always made freely.
  3. The volunteer student is given some training prior to commencing. This will include background information on autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
  4. Once the volunteer student is paired with a student on the autism spectrum they are also given an overview of the specific issues which relate to their new ‘friend.’ This overview will be different for each student however will include things like:
    1. The hobbies and/or interests of the students with autism
    2. The current level of ability the student with ASD has in their areas of interest
    3. What may trigger an adverse reaction
    4. What types of reactions the volunteer student can expect
    5. What to do in the event of a reaction
  5. The volunteer student then becomes an advocate and friend to the student with ASD; they will spend some time together during recess and lunch so that the student with ASD is not always alone and will experience a sense of belonging.
  6. The ‘friendship’ will have a teacher mentor which both students can turn to for guidance and assistance.
  7. Eventually, the friends can go out socially on the weekend however this will be fully supervised by the teacher mentor so the volunteer does not bear responsibility for the outing; they are only there to provide social support. This will be a group outing which includes the other students involved in the School M.A.T.E.S Autism Programme.
  8. The group outing will occur later in the year after the ‘friendships’ have had time to develop.
  9. The teacher mentor will be given basic training in ASD prior to commencement.
The Aim Of This Programme
  • Facilitate friendship, confidence, a sense of belonging and inclusion in the school community
  • Reduce the level of loneliness and isolation which many students on the autism spectrum experience
  • Reduce the incidence of bullying
  • Help students with ASD develop more appropriate social skills
  • Increase the school community’s understanding and awareness of ASD
Benefits Of The Programme For Volunteer Students
There are also benefits for the volunteer students who participate in the programme, and for the entire school, these include:

  • Assisting the volunteer students in their formation to become advocates and leaders in their school communities
  • Creating an environment within the school community where the student volunteer as an individual is able to personally make real a difference
  • Creating a school community which develops a sense of social responsibility for all its members
MATES Fully Supported
I would like to restate that the volunteer students are fully supported by staff, their role is to keep an eye out for their ‘mate’ and to be their friend during lunch breaks and also when socialising with them on the group outing. The socialisation process is fully supervised so the student does not bear the full responsibility; they are merely a ‘friend’. This is valuable on so many levels as indicated and will help to reduce the social isolation, loneliness and the incidence bullying experienced by students with ASD.
A complete training manual with training support for teachers is being developed and will be available to schools for purchase from this site.

To register your interest, fill in your details below and I will contact you as soon as it is available, otherwise just keep checking on the website.

Training Manuals for Teachers