“Focus on Friendship”; (dialogue) conversations about social relations with secondary schools and their students with autism

Friday, November 1, 2013
First author:
Gigi Dingler
Hybrid Spaces of Belonging

Nederlandse Stichting voor het Gehandicapte Kind (NSGK)/ NSGK: a Dutch Organisation for children and young people with disabilities, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

All authors:

Gigi Dingler, Saskia Buma, Alma Wattimena

Friendship, awareness, dialogue


The aim of this project is to put the topic “social relations” on the agenda of (special) secondary schools and their students with autism.


1) Interview We organize interviews with the schools and ask about their experiences, vision and activities related to social relations. 2) Dialogue sessions and trainings We offer dialogue sessions about friendship in the classroom. Dialogue is the opposite of a discussion. It’s about listening to each other. A dialogue can make students aware of their experiences, desires and their own role. Practicing the skill of listening and meeting each other in a personal way can contribute to the interconnection. Teachers can be trained to guide dialogues themselves.

3) Publicity

Free publicity will help to put “social relations” on the agenda of the schools.


At this moment (April 2013) three schools participated in the project and two interviews are planned. School are enthusiastic about the project, but a lot of them are too busy with their daily business to put extra effort on social relations (including the dialogue experience). We expect there will be more space for the project in the next school year (Sept 2013). However, the first teachers who experienced a dialogue session where very positive and the participating students too. They want to repeat the dialogue regularly with their students.


It is the intention of NSGK to continue this project for secondary schools focussed on students with different kinds of disabilities. At this moment it’s too early to draw conclusions. In October/November we can tell more about NSGK’s intends with this project.