A series of picture books created by a team of researchers at the University of Wollongong (UOW) is helping young children support and understand their friends who live with autism.
Developed by Professor Mitch Byrne, from UOW’s School of Psychology, in collaboration with doctoral student Lidija Balaz, the books are pitched to children aged from three and five.
“Story books are a common way of teaching children basic academic and social skills, as well as strategies to manage problems,” Ms Balaz said.
“We have developed three books which capture the main challenges experienced by young children who have autism in mainstream preschools and how their friends can understand, support and play with them in different ways.”
The Understanding Our Peers series grew out of a program of the same name, which won the National Recognition Advancement Award from Autism Spectrum Australia in 2015.
Professor Byrne and Ms Balaz have been working with the support of Autism Spectrum Australia to see if the books make a difference in the way children who do not have autism interact with their peers who are on the autism spectrum.
“So far, the data is very encouraging and it seems that social relationships have improved and the children with autism are experiencing a more inclusive and enjoyable preschool environment,” Professor Byrne said.
You can read more about this study here. [Story credit: University of Wollongong newsroom.]
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