Something I’m Greateful For.

Something I’m Greatful For.

Linwood is a historic school and residential program in Ellicott City, Maryland. It was founded in 1955 by a Dutch therapist named Jeanne Simmons.  Dr. Leo Kanner conducted his early research at Linwood. (If you recall, Dr. Kanner identified and named “early infantile autism”.)  In 1965 Dr. Charles Ferstera University professor and researcher, obtained a federal grant to conduct research on behavior modification. He developed the Linwwod Project, which analyzed the methods used, translated them into objective behavioral language, and defined the “Linwood method”.
My nephew, Stephen, had autism and was enrolled at Linwood throughout most of his childhood and his young adulthood.  My sister used the “Linwood method” and shared her knowledge with me.  It involved following the children and looking for the reasoning behind behaviors.  Power struggles were avoided, strong motivators were employed, and positive emotional support was always provided.  As a young special education teacher, this knowledge came in handy.  But it was a few years later that I really needed it.  My son, Jared, has autism, and I thank my lucky stars every single day that I learned positive ways of dealing with his behaviors.  Thanks ever so much, Linwood! For more info, visit: LinwoodCenter.org.
By Colleen Selfridge.

Autism and social development, the rabbit hole that leads to loneliness.

By a teacher from Chicago, IL

Children with Autism have a strong urge for social interaction, but they often get so overwhelmed by the entire process that they become hesitant and oftentimes reluctant to socialize. These children typically face certain challenges relating to attention and timing which makes communication more difficult. As they grow older, these challenges generally lead to the underdevelopment of social skills for children with Autism.

Despite their earnest desire to be social, children with Autism have trouble making friends. They are unaware of the role that expressing emotions and responding to facial expressions has on forming relationships which results in mostly just being ignored by the people around them. These issues further trigger antisocial behavior and result in children with Autism being generally withdrawn from social scenarios. It is essential to be aware of the fact that these children can learn social interaction and can make friends, which will ultimately resolve conflicts and reduce bullying.

Parents of children with Autism know that learning to make better friends is not only critical for their social development, but an essential skill for their children’s overall well being. Most parents are concerned because they can’t find friends for their children and they constantly see their children getting rejected by social groups. However, they can definitely help them to make meaningful relationships. The role of the parents is very important in developing social skills in their children.
As a teacher, I have found various ways to help children with Autism that make a difference in their lives. I work with so many parents to help them realize that social interaction is an ability that can be developed in their kids. Lately I came to know about a recent development regarding Autism. There is an app by the name of “Friendi” which provides a platform for children with Autism, to connect, from all around the world. Not only this, but the parents of these children can connect and share their experiences. The app will be officially launched in July 2016. I also found a website www.friendiapp.com which has more detailed information about this app. Moreover, there is a Facebook page at Facebook.com/getfriendi for further details and updates.

This new app is great news for children with Autism, as it will transform their lives. Among various forums and communities, this app is applauded as being “Autism’s Best Friend.” The app is developed by a software startup based in Los Angeles. The purpose of this app was to deal with the social challenges faced by kids with Autism. According to its co-founder, Benjamin Raskin, the seclusion of these kids is the biggest challenge faced by their parents. The negative effects of this seclusion also influence other aspects of the child’s life such as school. After thorough research and consultation with parents, teachers and experts, the need of such an app was realized.

The design of the app uses bright and vibrant colors, but most importantly, it appears simple to use. Basically, the application allows parents to create a profile for their child, which contains information regarding their age, location, hobbies and other interests. This way, kids with similar interests and in the same age group get matched up. Friendi also provides a forum for parents, who can use it to receive support, share experiences and ask questions. Research shows that developing the social skills of children with Autism plays an important role in their development.

Parents, from early on, have a clear idea about the interests of their children. This new technology is designed with the intent of helping their children to connect with others who have similar interests. The hope being that over time, they will eventually develop and maintain real relationships and these children will have the opportunity to live a more meaningful life.

Through this app, parents can help their children to choose friends. The research shows that children with Autism have a one-dimensional view of the personality of others. They mostly describe other children based on their physical traits such as height, age and appearance. In terms of the personality of another child, they can only describe someone as nice or not. As a teacher, I believe that parents can play a productive role in helping their kids to analyze the personalities of others. This app will help them select appropriate friends.

Most children with Autism are unaware of the norms of conversation as they talk only about their interests. Parents have to teach them the skill of listening to others. It is important to help them realize that other kids also have interests and that they can ask questions politely inquiring about each other’s interests. This app will provide parents a great way to enhance their children’s social development by making regular and consistent social interactions just a few clicks away.
As a teacher, I always recommend to parents the importance of exposing their children to diverse physical and social environments. This app will enable children to have many more positive social interactions than before. Through this app, parents can find friends who live in the same vicinity and invite them to their home. Most kids with Autism make friends that are of the same age and specific interests. This app will easily connect them with such other kids. Turn-by-turn the parents of both the children can arrange a play date at their home places. According to research, the children with Autism are more comfortable in their home and will feel confident to develop better social interaction.

As a teacher, I believe it is an innovative and effective way of learning from each other. Moreover, it can further lead to a meeting of the parents along with the children once they become part of a strong social network. I find the application very user-friendly and the graphics of the app are also very attractive for children. In order to help children with Autism you can find more information here info@friendiapp.com.

This new mobile app for Autism could change your child’s life forever…

(LOS ANGELES, CA – March 28, 2016) – Dignisoft, a software startup based out of Los Angeles, CA was founded with the intention of solving social challenges for underserved populations. School Counselor and co-founder Benjamin Raskin described his personal experience working with children with Autism, he, like many people, observed first hand the isolation and disengagement that is so commonly associated with this population. He also witnessed the emotional struggle for parents who fear that loneliness could be a lifelong hurdle for their kids.  After talking with many parents and professionals alike, it became clear that meaningful friendships were not only a yearning desire for parents but also proven to be tremendously helpful for the social development of their children.

The question now became how to assist children with Autism in the formation of meaningful and mutual friendships? Benjamin Raskin, holding a Masters Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, theorizes that the social difficulties which hinder this population’s ability to form friendships primarily lies within the initiation process.  He is quoted saying, “the children first have difficulty initiating a conversation, and second have trouble identifying and expressing their interests to one another. Once these two prerequisites have taken place, the chance of forming a real friendship increases exponentially. It is on this premise that the mobile app “Friendi” was first conceived.

When parents take on the role of friendship initiator, they relieve their child of the difficult icebreaking experience and can thus jump-start the friendship development process without requiring any initial involvement from the child. By this point, children are already half way to the finish line in forming meaningful, mutual and potentially life-long friendships, naturally.”  The next step is for the initiating parents to plan a get-together, provide warm introductions to each other’s children and then, sit back and observe.  Benjamin describes this process as a “planned coincidence.” Friendi’s bright and simple design is surely something to appreciate. But even more impressive is the app’s future implications. This parent supervised and facilitated friendship making app for children with Autism further demonstrates the potentially life-changing impact that technology continues to have on children with special needs.

Friendi will be launching the iOS version of the app July of this year.
To learn more about Friendi, visit www.friendiapp.com if you want to help support this development you can email Ben directly at Ben@friendiapp.com