I had a meltdown in class last year as a result of repressed trauma, the trigger was the entire term content and topic.
Summer what makes you a good friend?

Come on Summer, surely you have friends?
*further silence*

Don’t you have any friends?

*In front of my entire class * Nothing I do makes me a good friend.

What do you mean? don’t you know what qualities you need to be a good friend?

I do not have any qualities that makes a good friend

What? so you don’t have any other kids your own age that you hang out with?

* Meltdown is now in full swing *

There is a lack of understanding within our communities around autistics and their abilities to navigate the social world.

I appear to communicate effectively and appear outgoing, so its automatically presumed that I do not need support.
Friendship has always been a mystery to me.

I remember thinking how can you tell if someone is your friend? because everyone has a different concept of what friendship is.

In the past I have valued friendship more than what the other person has.

When someone decides instantly not to be your friend. I became confused , hurt and struggled to make sense of it all.
I’ve been bullied by kids that I thought were my friends.
Over time I closed myself off to the thought of having friends my own age.

All my friends are currently adults they are more predictable, the conversations are more in-depth and I feel they understand me better, I feel safe.
Unfortunately, this scenario isn’t uncommon.

I feel that if there was a better understanding within education system on, how best to support students.
How to best facilitate strategies for students who have challenges navigating friendships.
Things may have turned out differently for me if I was understood by those around me.
Even better let’s start with installing the concept of acceptance of differences, so eventually they are no longer differences, they become a way of life.


Published by Autistic Perspectives

__________ Summer Farrelly is 15-year-old Autistic Advocate, Public speaker, Inclusion & Education Consultant, Artist, Chicken Whisperer, Animal Assisted Learning Program Creator & Facilitator , Animal Therapies LTD Ambassador and The A List Ambassador. A daughter of a late diagnosed autistic mother and a sister of two autistic brothers. Summer believes her lived experience as an autistic individual and living within a family that consists of multiple autistic members, each with their own complexities, will provide both a relatable and diverse perspective For the last 5 years Summer has been sharing her personal insight and the benefits of human and animal connection. Often stepping out of her comfort zone sharing vulnerable, raw, and real moments of life challenges faced by young autistic teens in hope to educate and inspire others. Summer has become a recognised and valued contributor within the Animal Assisted Learning and Therapy platforms. Summer’s connection with animals has provided her with the strength needed to navigate life as an autistic teen who faces daily challenges of self-harm, ADD, PTSD, anxiety, Reactive depression, and Dyslexia. Summer’s journey is about understanding herself emotionally through their connection with animals more importantly this journey is about understanding herself and practicing self-care. About Animal Assisted Learning Program ‘Chickens to Love’ Summer developed Animal Assisted Learning Program Chickens to Love for Autistic and other Neurodivergent people (this includes anyone who may be ADHD, ADD, ABI or anyone whose brain is not considered “typical”). I created Chickens to Love as an inclusive program, to benefit everyone and include everyone, because neurodiversity is part of biodiversity. We all can benefit from understanding ourselves, our emotions, and the perspectives of others. Our communities must understand and learn the importance of a deeper level of compassion, empathy, and acceptance of differences. Neurodivergent people, are often encouraged or forced to fit in to everyone else’s way of seeing the world. The Cultivation of self-esteem in ones self-starts with self-love, self-acceptance and having the ability to embrace one’s true authentic self. Chickens to Love is designed from a neurodivergent and animal (Chicken) perspective to better understand social dynamics, emotions (ours and other people’s), other people’s perspectives, consent, respectful touch, resilience, self-acceptance, empowerment and how to self-advocate. Animals can change our lives. Never underestimate the power of them!

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