Teaching your school about autism is a MUST each year to promote an inclusive, family atmosphere. For some reason talking about autism feels like a taboo subject. Or maybe you just don’t know where to START? Or maybe you just can’t possibly find the TIME to do it? These are not good reasons as to why you shouldn’t educate your school about autism. I promise, when you do you will feel SO GOOD!!
Here is the secret to teaching your school about autism: KEEP IT SIMPLE!
It is important to talk about autism in relatable and simple terms. I usually like to have a student with autism with me, so I can introduce the student by name. Then, I talk about how we are all different- some a little more different than others. However, we are all the same. Next, I talk about some of the students with autism’s interests.- “John loves gold fish crackers and watching cooking shows. Does anyone else love those things?” Usually the students by this point are raising their hands excitedly saying “I like that too!” From this point on I let the students ask questions (usually they have a lot of them). I answer the questions as they come.
Here is a simple checklist for teaching your school about autism:
Introduce a student with autism by name – “This is ____ and he has autism.”
Discuss that all people are different-we can see some differences more than others.
Discuss that even though we are all different, we also have many similarities.
Highlight some of the student with autism’s favorite things. Ask the students if they like any of those things
Answer any questions the students may have.
Quick story from my experience:
This year I have an eloper. He is beginning to elope from my classroom and go into other classrooms where there are students learning. Once he is in the other classrooms, he doesn’t want to leave. Yesterday, we got stuck in the library with a 4th grade class. My student was making noises and walking around the room. At first the students were good about continuing their work, while sneaking glances here and there to see what he was doing. After a few minutes, a group of boys began to snicker. Their teacher redirected them back to their work. However, I knew this would be a good time to have a discussion about autism. I began to follow the 5 steps shown above. It was AMAZING to see how all the students changed their tune and reaction to my student. They were very interested and amazed that he liked a lot of the stuff that they do. Later on when we saw this class in the hallway, the class got excited and waved at my student.
This chat about autism took maybe 5 minutes, but that 5 minutes has changed the school environment and that class’s perception about autism forever!
Follow the 5 steps I outlined above and see how easy it is! YOU’VE GOT THIS! Let me know in the comments how it went 🙂
Looking to start a Buddy Program at your school? Click here for my easy guide 🙂