Social interactions are often a big challenge for a teenager with autism. At this age they also come to realize that they are ‘different’ than their peers. It can be difficult to make friends, and they may feel misunderstood and isolated. Our classes help these teenagers to be more socially resilient and aware. We do this in a safe environment with a focus on joy with their peers.
We give this classes for a while, and we were curious about the experience of our participants and their parents. That is why we talked to Evita, Jurre’s mother. Jurre has done the course four times already. “He loves to play with the teenagers his age. By playing and the scenarios he really lets loose and has the confidence to come out of his comfort zone. Along the way he has a lot of fun as well.”
The courses also have an effect on the daily life of her son. “In the past he completely withdrew when someone approached him on the street. I now notice he is more confident to react in unexpected situations. His fear for strangers has also lessened.
Evita drops Jurre off to class and often stays to watch Jurre. “I think Lizz (the trainer) is very inviting and enthusiastic. Her approach is always positive and every attempt, not matter how small, is valued and appreciated by her. Whatever the participants do is totally okay and that is good for their self-empowerment and developing free communicative skills.” The classes are in English and there is always an interpreter present. Jurre does not seem to need it though. “Do you know what is so special? Jurre does not think he is very skilled in languages, but he always fiercely tries to speak English.
That the course has actually helped Jurre is very valuable for Evita; “InterActing helps teenagers to come out of their shell. You give them the tools to, for example, communicate with people they do not know, in a light and playful way. You make sure Jurre is more comfortable and connects with others easier. Only for that reason I am happy to let him participate.