Kids with autism often find it hard to make friends. But that doesn’t mean they don’t want to.
It’s also not unusual for people with autism to communicate more comfortably in writing than in conversation.
One day not so long ago, a boy with autism in Charlottetown shared on Splash N’ Boots’ Facebook page that he was looking for a pen pal. The mother of another boy named Lucas, who also has autism, saw it and showed her son. When Lucas saw it, he was really excited about the idea of making friends through letter writing. Over time, he collected a few long distance friends.
Lucas and his mom wanted to share the opportunity with other children, and with the help of Splash N’ Boots a project was begun. Lucas’ Letters is a pen pal club for all kids, designed so that children with autism or other disabilities are able to participate and meet new friends.
How Does it Work?
Click “Join the Club” on the Lucas’ Letters website, and you will see a registration form for kids and parents to fill out together. Lucas’ mom and another volunteer are busy matching pen pals according to their interests. Once each child is matched with a pen pal, they are sent contact information and a welcome package including some writing materials and some tips on making communication a little easier.
Participants are welcome to adapt their communication form and style to their needs – writing can take whatever form they are comfortable with – it could be parent scribed, written, typed, drawn, or generated by a communication device. Kids of all abilities are welcome to join.
So far hundreds of kids have responded.
For Lucas, letter writing was a way for him to engage with other people on an even playing field, where he could say what he wanted to say and learn from different perspectives of other kids as well.
The hope is for Lucas’ Letters to continue to grow.
Lucas’ Letters is an opportunity for people to realize that autism does not mean loneliness – that for kids who have a hard time talking, they can make friends in a different way. The project is also an example of how kids can grow beyond our expectations of what we may think they can and cannot do – just like Lucas.
The potential is there to build a community where people who normally have difficulties with social communication can feel safe and welcome. There’s a Facebook page you can follow to join the community and learn more.
Is your child interested? Help them sign up here!