This questions comes from Getting Ready for School: Interview with Paula Kluth, Ph.D.
What can parents do to educate “other students” about autism (How to Be a Friend) to help with their child’s transition back to school?
“One of the best ways to educate other learners about peers with unique learning profiles is to build classroom community and teach about differences throughout the year. In the beginning of the year, students might all create “about me” posters, presentations, or books and share them to each other. A student’s autism can be explained as part of these introductions. In talking about a disability in the context of all individual differences, students will see that EVERY learner is unique, not just some! if a student on the spectrum wants to elaborate on his or her specific needs, that learner may be invited to field questions from classmates or to teach a mini-lesson on his or her label, strength, or challenges.
There are also some great pieces of literature that might be appropriate to use in classrooms. For older students, autobiographies of those with autism can serve as tools to discuss the needs of some individuals on the spectrum. For younger learners, books such Ian’s Walk or It’s OK to Be Different (Todd Parr) are nice introductions to the topic. I have just published a new book (with my colleague, Patrick Schwarz) about honoring a student’s fascinations called Predro’s Whale so I have started using that in classrooms as well.”
How have you educated “other students” about autism? What advice would you give other parents on how to accomplish this?
This month’s Community Connections: Back to School is aimed at helping families who have a child with autism make a smooth transition back to school. We produce an eNewsletter, a blogs, and a Facebook “Q and A session,” bringing together expert interviews, family experiences and a variety of resources on the topic. Sign up here to receive Community Connections.