"A Difference for the Good"

October 21, 2013
Chelsea Budde

I could spend the next month's worth of blogs breaking down the lyrics of The Figureheads' original song, "We ALL Fit", written and produced for Good Friend's upcoming elementary school peer sensitivity film of the same title.  And each week I could focus on a phrase that has come to mean so much more to me over the process of observing the interactions on the film and music video sets.  But with the video scheduled to be available on YouTube within the next month, I don't want to infuse my own experiences into the song for you.  I want you to tell us your stories!

Jeremy Bryan, Dave Olson, and Greg Marshall
of The Figureheads on the set of our music video

Still, I can't resist these lines from the bridge:

And if I had a friend
Someone who understood
Then that would make a difference,
a difference for the good.

What difference has having a friend (or a group of friends) had in your life?  Go back to your elementary school days.  What about then?  What did it mean to you to have a friend?  Forget about trauma and tragedy, like parents divorcing or grandparents dying.  What if you didn't have a friend to get through the daily things, like learning to ride your bike?  Or letting you borrow a pencil when yours broke?  Or handing you a tissue when you were about to sneeze?

What if you wanted a friend desperately, but you were dropped into a new foreign language immersion school, and you didn't speak the language?  Now you need a friend more than ever, but you don't have the tools to connect.  You can't tell them about your interests and don't know how to ask them about theirs.

Consider for a moment that this is what it's like to have autism.  You don't speak the social language, and you don't understand the nonverbal components that are inherent in the customs of this neurotypical world.  But you need a friend.  Because you know that that would make a difference for the good.  Your friend would help you make sense of what you see and hear.  Your friend would stand up for you when others, unaware of the way your brain is wired, tease, belittle, and bully you.  Your friend would see when you need space and when you need support.

When one of the 9-year-old members of our cast heard the bridge for the first time, he told his mom, while rocking to self-regulate and connect to the music's beat, "That's just like me."  She and I had tears in our eyes as we pondered and observed, convicted by the simplicity and the heartbreak of the truth of it all.

Please consider today how you can encourage your typically-developing students to be a friend to a classmate with autism.  If you're not sure how to teach them to make a difference for the good, Good Friend would be happy to help!

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