Zoom Autism Magazine Issue 1 Fall 2014 - Page 46

in an effort to create a more inclusive and caring environment. But even with all these efforts, I know there are still kids out there who are hurting, who feel lost in plain sight, who are about to step on a bunch of mines. Buddy Benches: Making Recess Time More Inclusive Can a bench on a playground really reduce bullying and foster friendI should add that everyone ships? Many schools on the spectrum is differseem to think so. At the ent. The issues I struggled very least, they are willwith may not apply to all ing to give them a try. A students on the spectrum. Buddy Bench, which is But the point is to demonthe most common name strate the value of stepping given to these benches, is back and looking at differmeant to be a place where ent facets of the school day any student can volunin more detail. With autism tarily sit if he feels lonely issues, it’s important to or upset during recess. consider a student’s unique The hope is that other stupersonality and needs and dents will recognize that then ask if there are any someone is on the bench settings that may be creatand then either ask that person to play or sit down to talk. ing unnecessary stress and The principals who have installed these benches say that anxiety. If the answer is they are much more than just decorations; they are a helpful yes, then it is time to work way for schools to facilitate “peer support” among students. together, parent, teacher After all, it only takes one child willing to reach out, and soon, and child, to remove those other children will reach out too. minefields. M. Kelter writes about life on the autism spectrum at his blog, Invisible Strings. You can visit his Twitter and Facebook page, where positive discussions with an active parent community are ongoing. He has been a guest contributor for Kate Winslet’s Golden Hat Foundation blog and The T [