the cure for autism is teaching neurotypical children to be friendly

There’s an interesting article at Spectrum News about how the cure for autism is raising children to be nice to autistic people. Basically, they selected some kids who seemed alright, gave them some background info about the weird autistic kid on the playground, and taught them how to be friendly:

The teachers then met with the peers during lunch. At this meeting, the teacher shared the information she had written down, and taught the peers five strategies associated with pivotal response training, an approach that involves behavioral strategies designed to be naturally engaging and motivating. The teacher taught the peers five strategies: Get your buddy to look at you; ask your buddy to play something with you; show and talk about how you play; compliment your buddy; and if you can’t play at the same time, help your buddy to take turns.

The teachers modeled these strategies and helped the typical students practice them through role play. They also provided ongoing support to the peers during recess by helping them to set goals for how they would support the student and providing prompts and encouragement when needed.

This intervention produced a striking improvement in social outcomes for the students with autism.

The students with autism who participated interacted with their peers more than three times as often and played with peers nearly four times as often as those who did not get the help. The teachers told us that implementing this approach was not difficult, and that they planned to help more students…

After participating in our study, Evan substantially increased his interactions with the other students during recess. He also engaged in new activities. Evan’s peers were excited and surprised to learn that he was an excellent soccer player. When we asked Evan what he thought of his new friends, he said, “Sometimes I was alone and didn’t know who to play with, and they would come up to me and ask me to play.”

Wow! It’s almost like the adults had never shown the kids how to be welcoming to people who are different, so they followed the adults’ lead and acted weird and uncomfortable with th autistic person.