My son was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome - a form of high-functioning autism - in Kindergarten. Despite being an educator, I often felt helpless, as a parent, at how to best support my son with his unique strengths (there were many!) and his unique challenges (there were also many!). While my son LOVES learning, his experiences in schools were quite varied.
Like many families who are touched by autism, finding a school that understood and met my son's unique needs and challenged him in his strength areas was beyond challenging. This led to switching schools numerous times to avoid situations of peer-bullying, low expectations from teachers and more.
In fifth grade, after a ton of research, and a move, we entered yet another new school. It seemed promising. At the time, I didn't yet realized how positively impactful our experience there would be.
My son's new resource teacher - Courtney Butorac - was incredible! She was not only an dynamic special education teacher, but she also had substantial experience working with kiddos on the spectrum. She was also a consultant for Seattle Public Schools and pushed into other district schools to support their teachers with resources and coaching around how to best support their students with autism. Furthermore, Courtney was deeply connected to centers for excellence for autism and multiple experts in the field. We hit the jackpot!
She moved right into action to get to know John, to learn how to support and challenge him in his strength areas and to how support him with his social and behavioral challenges. The progress he made was rapid and substantial.
Courtney changed our lives forever, for the better.
As you can imagine, Courtney and I became closer as fellow educators and also as friends. About a year after she first met my son, Courtney shared that she had been writing children's social stories on common social challenges to support her students.
I asked to see them. And well, the stories were just lovely, but they were just text on simple word docs. The scope of taking the book concepts to the next level with illustrations, production, editing and more was just too much. So, I offered to take it on as a passion project.
Over the last two and a half years, Courtney and I have been collaborating to produce her books and resources in a way that will make them accessible to more teachers, more students and more families. We hope others will be as positively impacted by Courtney's work, as we were.
We are excited to introduce you to "The A-Team" – a friendship group whose members help each other with social skills & common social challenges in class, at school and also with friends!
Only the first book in the series - "Meet The A-Team" - specifically mentions autism. After this Introduction book, each story in the series unfolds from the perspective of one of the A-Team members. Each book focuses on a specific social skill, without mentioning autism. After all, while autistic learners do indeed struggle with common social, emotional and behavioral challenges, so do their neurotypical peers....for that matter, so do adults! In this way, parents, teachers and administrators will find these books to be an invaluable resource for teaching social skills to ALL students, with or without Autism.
As you read a book, you join the characters - Alex, Bella, Lily, Jack and Max - as they participate in their A-Team friendship group meetings, led by their teacher Ms. Corina. Their meetings are where they learn specific strategies around common social challenges. They get "Top Secret Missions" that help them get better at dealing with their social challenges. Each book has an accompanying lesson, many with multiple lesson extension activities to use by teachers.
In this way, educators and parents will find these books to be an invaluable resource for teaching social skills to ALL kids.
The books are all beautifully illustrated and instantly relatable to kids! Teachers (and parents too) who were dealing with common social challenges before will now be able to support their kiddos with specific strategies outlined in digestible bites each book.
We've even worked specialists along the way! We appreciate the support of Ilene Schwartz at the University of Washington, who has supported and endorsed our work.
Want your first social story?
Click here to enter to win in our FREE GIVEAWAY!
Visit us at our partner site: sociallearning.org where you can:
1. Learn more about the A-Team
2. Find free resources
3. Get ideas for lessons and activities
4. Read our blog on how to support stronger Social Emotional Learning.
5. Get a copy of your favorite A-Team books (free shipping!) to use with your kiddos!
More books are coming each month, so subscribe to our blog or follow us on Twitter for updates on the latest releases!
Dealing with a different social challenge with your kiddo?
Send us a message, we’d love to hear what you think a topic for our next set of books should be!
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