For many teenagers, interacting with peers can prove difficult, but for adolescents with autism, social interactions can be downright frustrating and exhausting. Heidi LeGrand recognized the need for young adults with autism to practice their social skills, so she initiated a program at Bittersweet Farms to provide a safe place for individuals to have the opportunity to talk about themselves. As an added bonus, Heidi adds that parents are also able to get out of the house.
Heidi tries to group participants according to “their skill level and their age”, ranging from 12 to 22, and the instructors then “open up the floor for students to have the opportunity to talk about themselves, which is usually something that’s easier for them.” Group discussion also allows the “instructors to get to know each of the students.” Each session focuses on a specific topic; recently they discussed texting and cyberbullying, emphasizing the point: “If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t text it.” They also play games, such as “Would You Rather,” to keep participants engaged since many of them come from a long day at school. Heidi hopes that the Bittersweet Social Skills program can “help make participants comfortable and make them understand that they are normal in their own ways.”
Bittersweet Farms, 1926 Kahler Rd., Pemberville. Call 419-287-4549 for more information.