Each month as an educator, it is important for teachers to reflect on his or her classroom practices and the how and whys of what we do. April is Autism Awareness month and this is such a special time, because as teachers and leaders we should self-reflect on things we can do better or differently to help all children-including children with autism-succeed. High expectations for all students are vital. In classrooms today, teachers must differentiate for all students and include each child in all aspects of the learning community.
Today, about 1 in 68 children are being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015).
(ASD) is 5 times more common in boys than in girls. Boys (1 in 42) Girls (1 in 189) (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015).
These statistics mean that in our classrooms we are encountering these children more and more. We are doing our best to meet their needs and to incorporate them into classroom life with their peers. We must ensure that our expectations and standards for all students are high and reflect on each individual. As teachers we have hopes and dreams for our students: they will succeed in learning to read, they will graduate from high school, attend college, and find a meaningful career.
Sue Rubin is an excellent example of a four-year old child diagnosed with autism that lived her life and achieved many goals and dreams she had for herself. Her exemplar, head-strong, positive attitude is what we need to expect from all of our students. When we set high expectations and standards in our classrooms, children will rise to the occasion.
Working with families of children with autism can be very beneficial to our classrooms too. Most families are determined to educate themselves with as much information possible about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) including what services and supports are available to assist them and their child. Remember that families know their children best. They may have suggestions or ideas of things that can help you while you are teaching all children. You may also have suggestions that they can use at home. A reciprocal relationship with all families is important so that you can work together to do what is best for each child. The following blog by Carrie Cariello shows a glimpse into a family with five children and their daily encounters with one that has ASD. She brings light and love to the situation and finds the positive in every day.
Ideas to Use in your Classroom:
Routines and Procedures (that are the same everyday)
Keep all directions/commands simple
Buddy Systems (Not all of the time, special times)
As you read through some of these ideas you begin to think, this is something I already do, or would do with all of my students. You are exactly correct. The list of ideas can and should be used in a developmentally appropriate classroom setting with all students. High expectations should be for each and every student. You know your students, you know what they can do and you can set each expectation just as you would differentiate your classroom instruction and curriculum.
Involvement to Help Fund Autism
Autism Speaks is an advocacy organization that holds community involvement events nationwide. Autism Awareness Month is a wonderful opportunity to promote autism awareness while shining a spotlight on those individuals and their families who will receive a diagnosis year after year. For more information on Autism Awareness Month and an opportunity to get involved, please visit Autism Speaks at http://www.autismspeaks.org/ and American Autism Association at https://www.myautism.org/
This guest post was written by Tisha Shipley. Tisha has a doctorate of education in Curriculum and Instruction and has taught multiple grade levels at Moore Public Schools, including pre–K and gifted 3rd–6th graders.
You can find Tisha online in these places: