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Helping neurodivergent kids understand relationships

adhd how to make friends autism how to make friends i don't care about friends what is a friend Feb 26, 2024

My main goal here at Starfish Social Club is helping kids learn the skills and strategies that make it easier for them to make friends. While we all notice when our kids are struggling socially, I don't think we always realize how much it can impact the quality of their lives. 


I came across this quote last week:

"As a culture, we could improve our national happiness levels by making sure people focus most on what is primary - marriage and intimate relationships - and not on what is important but secondary - their careers." - David Brooks, in an email from The New York Times on Feb. 19, 2024.


And I am familiar with the Harvard Study of Adult Development, the longest running study of human life in history, which determined: 

"Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives, the study revealed. Those ties protect people from life’s discontents, help to delay mental and physical decline, and are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, or even genes. That finding proved true across the board among both the Harvard men and the inner-city participants."


In this week's podcast/YouTube episode, I'm talking about the 8 weeks that make up Module 4 of the program at Starfish Social Club, the Connection Module. This is what I teach live via Zoom each week to the students in the program here at Starfish from March to May. In this module, we focus on all types of relationships, from acquaintances to friends to people we are on a team with to our families to partnerships.


This module can be challenging for some kids who aren't ready to admit they don't have friends, or who say they don't care.


Here's a clip from the episode: 

There are so many situations in life where we put time and effort and energy, sometimes money, toward things and we don't get what we're trying to get. And it's easier to just tell ourselves and to tell other people that we don't care than it is to acknowledge that we really care and we just don't know how to make it happen.

This is what I notice when kids say they don't care about having friends. That it's not important to them. Even kiddos that I work with that have minimal verbal skills, even kiddos who tend to seem like they are put off by other people, seek connections and seek relationships. I've never had a student at Starfish, I'm on year eight now, never had a student that, after doing some work in the program, did not start to gravitate toward other kids and did not start to engage with other kids and try to communicate with other kids. We just get tired of things not working out and not knowing what to do any differently.


Listen to the podcast episode. 

Watch on YouTube.