Hayden’s Friends


If you can’t talk, can you still have a friend? Hayden Rushton has autism, which is a brain development disorder. It is very hard for him to understand and talk with others. But he has dozens of friends. They are the children in his Primary.

When Hayden first went to Primary, he cried and didn’t talk at all. He lives with his grandparents, and his grandmother had to stay with him to help him in Primary. Then his Primary leaders had an idea about how to help Hayden. And every child in Primary would get to help too.

Now Hayden goes to a class with his own teacher. The Primary children take turns going to Hayden’s class. Two older children go during senior sharing time, and two younger children go during junior sharing time. They look at books with Hayden and help him learn to do new things. They also help him learn how to get along with friends.

One of the older boys drew a picture of Hayden’s favorite animated character. Hayden loved it! One five-year-old friend has been very patient as he shows Hayden how to use things. All of the children try to be kind and helpful.

Thanks to the Primary children, Hayden has learned a lot. And thanks to them, Hayden doesn’t have just one friend—he has a whole Primary full of them!

Photographs by Cheryl Esplin