Buddy program brings students together

Unified, a new program at Sandshore Elementary School, is inspiring friendship and understanding. Unified brings together general education students in grades 3–5 and students with autism spectrum disorder.
 
The ASD students work with their general education peers twice per week, playing games with them in adaptive physical education and engaging with them in class activities and recess. Sometimes the interaction is as simple as chatting during snack time.
 
“Unified helps ASD students with their social skills and communication skills,” said learning consultant Debbie Reiber, coordinator of the program. “It also gives them more exposure to their typically developing peers. For the general education students, it teaches them to have empathy and patience, and makes them mindful of being inclusive of others.”
 
More activities and opportunities for interaction are planned for next year. A total of 55 general education students volunteered to work with the students in the ASD program.

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