This week, do something to help a child make a new friend

Posted by / Thursday 23 June 2016 /
Learning Disability Week
Over the past year, Action for Children has supported more than 14,000 disabled children and young people.
Clare Gent, Service Development Manager, explains just how important our role is in helping disabled children form strong relationships: “Friendships are an important part of our lives, they help us enjoy life and keep well and are especially important if we are having a hard time.
“Many disabled young people tell us they feel socially isolated and find it difficult to meet and make new friends.
“But services like our residential short breaks are vital in helping children spend time with friends, meet new people and have fun. They are often described as being like a sleep-over with friends.
“This week let’s all do something to help a child make a new friend.”
My Friend Sam cover - blog

Clare’s tips to get children to play together and communicate:

  • Help children choose toys they can play with together such as balls, construction toys or board games. Sometimes children playing alongside each other is the first step.
  • Help children learn positive social skills through being a role model showing how to take turns, listen, share ideas, compromise or show empathy.
  • Praise a child when you see them playing with others or taking turns.
  • Help children develop the skills that enhance and sustain friendships such as being upbeat and warm, talk about others in a positive way, accepting your differences and respect another person’s feelings.

“These are tips that can make a difference outside of work too” adds Clare.

Resources for children on the autism spectrum
Remember, for some children such as those on the autistic spectrum, social interaction and sharing may be difficult.
Below is a list of useful resources from the National Autistic Society that can help support children as they build relationships:
My friend Sam – a story about introducing a child with autism to nursery school by Liz Hannah.
This accessible book uses simple language to describe some of the difficulties that young children with autism may have, and also some of the things they are very good at. The large print and drawings mean the book can be used with a group in circle time.
The Circle of Friends approach is used in schools but can be adapted for any group setting.

More support. When you need it.

We have a wide range of resources to help disabled young people.