People with autism can find the ‘mechanics’ of socialising (small talk, social cues) to be confusing and alien, and this can make forming friendships more difficult. For parents and carers this was an obvious concern and it was this subject that topped the Family Support Season poll in November 2012.
For this Q & A we were joined by Jennifer Cook O’Toole, education specialist and author of The Asperkids Book of Social Rules and Andrew Swartfigure, Senior Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) Consultant at TreeHouse School. You can read the transcript below.
Jennifer Cook O'Toole has Asperger’s syndrome and is the mother to three young ‘Aspie’ children. She graduated from Brown University, and attended Columbia University's Graduate School of Social Work.
She has previously worked as a social worker, and a teacher in both special needs and mainstream education. She has also served on the Family Advisory Board for Levine Children's Hospital, North Carolina, and regularly gives presentations at hospitals and local universities on special needs parenting.
In 2002 she was nominated for Disney's Teacher of the Year Award and more recently she was awarded the 2012 Temple Grandin Award.
Andrew is a Senior ABA Consultant at TreeHouse School and has worked as an ABA practitioner for 12 years. Before joining TreeHouse School in 2009, he worked in consultancy roles at other organisations supporting children and young people with autism. He has also overseen mainstream inclusion for children of varying abilities and ages, and designs and implements training models.