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A Teacher Shares How Autism Inclusion Transformed Her Classroom

Lauren Nicole is a special education teacher in Berkeley, CA. She teaches at a school that practices inclusion. She shared her story with Autism Speaks:

On my caseload, four of my students have been diagnosed with autism. One student, with severe autism, has had a difficult school year. Being nonverbal, he may act out when unable to communicate or we don't understand.

Though some adults may not understand him, I have become quite close to him and his family. In April, his class and I spent many lessons learning about autism and becoming more aware. They each made a piece of art that represents autism to them. We glued on crayons and melted them with a hair dryer. We also made one for him.

Each student signed the back and we will be showing his family at open house tomorrow night.

I share this story because the impact my student has had on the rest of his class is immense. They say "hi" to him every day and give him fist bumps. They have a classroom "student helper" that they fight over every week. And every day there are numerous requests to pick a book and read to him on the bean bags.

If he is upset, many of them know his favorite calming strategies and say to me, "I helped him-all he needed was..."

This is why I do my job, this is why I believe in inclusion.

Autism Speaks created a tool kit to assist members of the school community in understanding and supporting students with autism. Additionally, here are 10 ways to support your child with autism through their teens and beyond.

The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.