With the help of our generous supporters, Luke has unlocked the secret to making friends through his ‘Secret Agent’ training.
If you know someone with autism, you’ll know that they can find it hard to understand other peoples’ emotions, express their own feelings and build relationships.
Luke used to have a really hard time.
He felt anxious about going to places with lots of people, like shopping centres or the movies. This could be incredibly isolating for Luke as well as his parents and sisters.
“Even last year, he would wander around aimlessly in the school playground,” says Judy, Luke’s mum. “Social interaction was what he had most trouble with.”
Luke has now been trained in the skills of communication through the Secret Agent Society (SAS).
The SAS is a social skills program by Australian psychologist, Dr Renae Beaumont, specifically created to teach children with autism how to manage their feelings and communicate effectively with others.
It is now being run through group therapy sessions at Aspect with incredible results.
After being part of the program, Luke’s ability to have a conversation, recognise his emotions and make friends has improved dramatically.
“He’s so much more social now,” Judy reports.
“When we go over to our relatives – he has 9 cousins – he used to just go inside and not talk to them. Now, he goes out and jumps on the trampoline, swims or plays soccer with them.”
“He’ll go up and talk to people and can better understand their body language and how they’re feeling.”
“For the first time in his life, he’s actually got friends. This has made him so much happier.”
“With Luke starting high school in a couple of years, this is such a relief. I was so worried about how he’d cope, but now I feel confident that he’ll be ok.”
Luke has learned valuable new skills and coping strategies through fun games and role playing, like:
• Shooting down unhelpful ‘enemy’ thoughts with foam ‘Helpful Thought Missiles’ to reduce feelings of anxiety and anger.
• Using a ‘Secret Messaging Transmission Device’ (walkie-talkie) to detect how other people feel from their tone of voice.
• Building personal ‘Bully-Guard Body Armour’ by developing strategies for defending himself against bullying.
The tools gained through this program have transformed Luke’s life and made him so much happier.
“I always hoped that as Luke got older, he’d be able to find more confidence and spend time with friends. That's now becoming a reality.”
“After the overall support Aspect has provided, the Secret Agent Society has been the best thing for him ever,” says Judy.