Corey McDonald is helping her middle-school-aged students with autism overcome difficulties with social interactions—a common symptom of the disorder. A student in Chicago School’s Online child and adolescent psychology program, Corey is learning to strengthen peer acceptance in her special education students at an age when “fitting in” is a concern for any adolescent.
Corey created “Lunch Buddies” at Auburn Middle School—a program that pairs general education and youth with autism in social situations such as lunch time and recess. The initiative has helped her students learn social cues and norms that are often lost to the disorder. Corey says while the program has helped her students with autism tremendously, surprisingly, it is the general education students who have benefited the most.
“The program facilitated the most social interaction my students have seen but the general education students saw the most growth. It’s fostered acceptance. They’ve maintained those friendships; there are long-lasting effects.”
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