On Monday evenings my agency hosts a socialization/game night for teens on the spectrum. It’s a great opportunity for parents of these kids to increase their contact with new people outside of the home/school environment. Each participant expresses their approval of the group in their unique way but it is obvious that they enjoy the experience.
What I want to mention here, however, is a word or two about the three teens who show up every week after school to help facilitate this event. They are really tremendous and bring unique perspectives and approaches to the work while possessing the same willingness to interact and connect comfortably and honestly with the clients.
I won’t use their names but I will use their example to inspire other teens to step outside your comfort zone and connect with someone who can use your help. This is a great way for siblings of a neurodiverse child to get a better understanding of their own brother or sister. Invite your friends to join you so they can see what life is like for you and perhaps increase their appreciation for your sibling’s abilities. Or if you have no relationship to a disabled boy or girl, this is a wonderful way to peer into their worlds and begin to uncover the many layers of life that will reveal themselves to you and help you to see what giving means and what life is like outside of your own experiences and perceptions for others.
Kids face enough internal and self conscious doubt and confusion. By helping others it allows them to be better able to reflect upon their own experiences in relation to others because they are connecting and having to think beyond “me;” to step away from the self absorption and self criticisms to nurture the needs of a fellow teen who might have a tougher time climbing that hill of life’s challenges, can be life altering and accelerate an understanding of their own humanity.
This is what I see happening for these three very different, yet similarly kind hearted persons. I encourage you to encourage your child to give it a try. There are a multitude of ways and organizations to volunteer their time. A little Google search can be the start of their journey:)
Peace and Keep Rising!