Monday, August 27, 2012

Autism Awareness...

I know Autism Awareness month isn't until April, but why wait until then?!  Our principal is having a couple of the Autism teachers at our school present to the general education teachers during this first week back of professional development.  The professional development we are leading this year is about how we incorporate academics into our classrooms (some people think it is all fun and games in an autism room...haha).

In the past, however, we have presented to the staff on a mini curriculum we created to teach the general education students in our school facts about autism as well as how they can be a good friend to kids with autism.  The beginning of the year is actually a perfect time to address this as most of our kids are included with general education students for all specials (gym, music, library, etc). 
We usually start by presenting a survey to see what kids already know about autism.  This one is used for the little kids (K-1).  We have created different versions for different age levels.

We then go into the classes and explain facts about autism.  We bring in our students' work (to show that they are able to do academics too) as well as communication devices (to show that even though talking may be hard for a lot of our students, they can still communicate). 

We end our session by brainstorming with the kids about how they can be a good friend to a kid with autism.  Things that tend to come up are: 
 * Show students how to do something.  Don't do it for them.
 *Use pictures to communicate when the students don't respond to words
 *Treat them the same way you treat your other friends
 *Be nice
 *Be a good role model

Then, after we leave, we ask the kids to do an art project on something they learned about people with autism.  One year we had kids decorate puzzle pieces and another year, we did flower petals.  Once we got them back from classroom teachers, we hung the projects down a main hall way in the school.  Here are some examples :-)

Close up of a puzzle piece

We hung these around the school too for kids to complete as they walked by.  A bunch of True/False statements about Autism.  The True/False are velcroed on and kids could detach them to indicate what they though the answer was.

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