LHS autism support group formed

Lincoln has a school psychologist, a school nurse, counselors and health teachers to support students who struggle with social disabilities. But in a school with nearly 1,800 students, these staff can only do so much.

To better support students with social disabilities, parent Amy Hunn has formed a coalition of parents and students called the Friends Group for Lincoln Students with Social Development Needs.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is the presence of certain behaviors that make communication and forming meaningful relationships with peers strenuous. It’s reported by the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention that nearly one in 68 children show characteristics that fall under the Autism Spectrum. In the complex social setting of high school, forming meaningful relationships can already be difficult, and for students with autism, it can be nearly impossible.

According to Autism Speaks, an organization advocating for individuals with autism, students with High Functioning Autism often slip under the radar of teachers, due to the non-social environment of the classroom. Hunn says High Functioning diagnoses are more common at Lincoln than Low Functioning diagnoses.

Hunn, her son, and her husband moved to Portland from California last summer and found it a difficult transition. Her son, Kellen, who has a case of High Functioning Autism, had a difficult time making meaningful connections and it left him feeling isolated. She saw the need for the group for her son as well as other students.

Hunn said “once you’ve met a person with autism… you’ve met a single person with autism”. This quote highlights the non-binary nature of the mental condition detailing how every person who shows signs of ASD has their own unique set of characteristics and symptoms. Every case is different, and in students who have autism it ranges from nearly undetectable to complete lack of ability to interact socially. This is yet another reason why Hunn felt the Friends Group was essential.

The goal of the group is to provide practice opportunities for students to develop needed social skills. Students with autism can learn to handle difficult social situations through experience during meetings. Families can also bond and share resources.

Hunn also said the group is “not for just ASD, but for ADHD [Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder] or any other learning disabilities.” She hopes to create an accepting community of students and families with social communication challenges.

If you are interested in joining the group, contact Amy Hunn at [email protected] or 650-468-6134.