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BAC Friends: October Newsletter

BAC Friends: October Newsletter

Welcome to our first BAC Friends newsletter!

We are excited for you to be a part of the 12th year of this highly successful after-school program. This program helps our students develop their socialization skills and provides an opportunity for everyone involved to make new friendships. Your children will help to spread that understanding and be a part of facilitating a greater level of acceptance within the community.

This year we will be sending a monthly newsletter with highlights of the program to provide you with ideas intended to spark further dialogue at home. Each month we will feature an interesting article, story and/or book recommendation in the event you or your child want to dig deeper into the issues affecting the autism community.

We hope that these newsletters are helpful and informative, and we welcome any feedback. Thank you for being a part of this very special and important program!

The Autism Acceptance Book
by Ellen Sabin

This book is much more than a book that teaches children about autism. It uses informative narrative and engaging activities to help them develop understanding, compassion, and appreciation for people different from themselves. It lets them use their imagination and journal exercises to more fully comprehend some of the challenges people with autism might face. It also empowers children by helping them understand the power of their actions and how they can be a good friend to others. The book is available on Amazon.

Peer Highlight of the Month:
Violet Chernoff

We are fortunate to have incredible volunteers of all ages in the BAC Friends after-school program. Violet, a junior at Packer, is one of those volunteers. This is Violet’s third year in the program and at this point she’s worked with each our students so she's familiar with each of their challenges. Not only is Violet social, outgoing and patient but she’s a natural at adapting to each student’s needs and particularly good at prompting language and initiating conversations. She knows how to ask the right questions, show a genuine interest, and this typically gets our students talking.  

“I have learned so much from this program, especially the importance of patience," says Violet, "I wouldn’t say I was the most patient person before this experience.” Being a peer buddy is a unique learning experience and we love hearing that it's as fun and rewarding for our peers as it is for our students. Thank you, Violet, for your continued commitment and for being such an asset to the program each week! 

How a Simple Act of Kindness Transformed a Boy's Birthday
by Steve Hartman

How do kids behave when there are no grown-ups around? Donette Mabes of South Brunswick, New Jersey, says you never really know. "Because you're not watching them at that moment, and at that time," she said.

She had always just assumed her son was good -- until recently, when 13-year-old Gavin Mabes got caught on tape showing his true character. Gavin and some middle school friends had just arrived at a skate park. The park was empty except for little Carter Bruynell, who was there with his mother celebrating his fifth birthday. Carter is on the autism spectrum. Big groups of older kids can make him nervous, so his mom, Kristen, was fully prepared to get him out of there. But she wasn't prepared for what happened next.

"I don't know, they really just shocked me. It was unlike any experience I think I've ever had," she said. You know how middle school kids sometimes operate like they're in a pack? Well, that's pretty much what happened here. Gavin led the way and the others followed. The only surprise was that Gavin didn't start trouble. He started a friendship.

"Gavin is just going around with him and making him feel special. And the rest of his friends kind of followed suit and then started singing Happy Birthday to him," Kristen said. "That really blew me away, 'cause you just want to see the kindness in the world. And I wanted Carter to have a good birthday."

Watch/read full story here.