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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Autism

Posted by on in General


"Mr. President, the pilot has announced he will be landing the plane in Dallas in ten minutes."

"You know, I don't have a good feeling about this. Tell the pilot to turn the plane around and head back to Washington. Okay?"

Such was a typical exchange between me and Luke, an eighth-grade special needs student. He usually provided the set up leaving me to improvise some witty response. Genuinely entertained and fully understanding my comeback, he did what any junior high student would do: he grinned, he groaned and he walked back to his seat.

Luke was a member of the developmental education class which consisted of several wonderful teenagers with intellectual disabilities. He was autistic and academically delayed, and his inability to fully socialize with others had greatly interfered with his learning over the years. He was intensely aware of his personal space and was fairly choosy as to who could be in it.

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Posted by on in What If?

autism awareness

A new government survey suggests that one in 45 children, ages 3 to 17, has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. It’s quite likely, then, that you will have one or more of these children in your classroom at some point. But very few of us know a lot about the disorder -- how to recognize the signs, or what accommodations to make for these students. So I invited Tricia Shelton, an expert in ASD, to join me on Studentcentricity, along with teacher Melanie Link Taylor.

Following our conversation, Tricia contributed this takeaway:

Teaching students with ASD can be challenging because the disorder is highly complex and can manifest differently in each student. Like their typically-developing counterparts, students with ASD have differing needs, strengths, and interests. Educators must take the time to get to know their students with ASD and to find strategies that work well for individual children. Be mindful that the first attempt at implementing a strategy may not be successful. Further, a strategy that is effective for one student with ASD may not be particularly helpful for another child. Teachers must be resilient in their efforts to support students with ASD.  However, no educator should feel alone in his/her practice; teachers should work with others both within and beyond the school community to help learners with ASD be successful.  Through this type of collaboration as well as on-going professional development, educators can offer students with ASD daily opportunities to reach their potential.

Melanie added:

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Tagged in: Autism

Posted by on in Leadership


If you have not heard about the shooting of Charles Kinsey while he was working with a 23-year-old autistic patient who was playing with a toy truck, read and watch the video before you proceed with this. Caught up? Okay good, let's talk.

My friend Jon Harper wrote a piece recently challenging us to discuss the uncomfortable and begin to have meaningful dialogue with one another about the issues that are plaguing our nation. We have had many conversations about ethnicity (not race, there is only one race, humans!) and how our ethnicity impacts how we approach the world. After learning about what happened with Mr. Kinsey, I can no longer sit silently. Here we go...

See, I am a mental health professional. I run a special education school for students with mental and emotional issues. My school population consists of students with many difficulties and we also have students who are on various parts of the autistic spectrum. I am a part of most of our behavioral and emotional crises that our students experience. These issues do not only happen within the walls of our school, but they also happen in our community.

While dealing with the situations that happen outside of school, I have thought about how things must seem to an unknowing bystander. There are protocols in place and staff have discussions about best practices to ensure the safety of all involved parties. I can tell you, without hesitation, that I have NEVER thought about our safety from a police perspective. Maybe it's because we have an amazing local police department that knows our population and supports us in every way possible. Of course this plays a role, but I think there are deeper reasons for my perceived safety in these situations.

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