Wednesday, June 11, 2014

My Insights Teaching Those with Autism

It has been more than two months since I last wrote in The Voice from the Spectrum, which I am sorry for.  Starting now, I'm going to try to get back to writing three posts every week.  Since my last post on March 27th, I have traveled to England to meet members of Positively Autistic

And started teaching teens and adults on the autism spectrum. (Here is some information about our upcoming summer session):

As the assistant instructor, I am not in charge of the lesson plan.  Instead, I am the program's "autism expert."  On the first day of class, I sat nervously in a seat as the class began to file in.  One of the students was upset and showed reluctance to enter the classroom.  It was a new experience for him and he was experiencing sensory difficulties.  His mom was having some difficulty controlling him.  I spoke to him, locking eyes (which is quite unusual for someone on the spectrum) stating that I was on the autism spectrum too, that it can be difficult sometimes but we have to keep going forward.  I also said to give the class a chance and you may be surprised with what happened.

This connection I formed with this student lead to a dramatic, and seemingly permanent, change in his behavior.  Ever since that time, he has come to class communicating with Stefan, myself, and his classmates about his interests while gaining skills in graphic design and Photoshop.  During which, he has explained a great deal about his various interests.  From what his mom said, this student was improving in other areas of his life too.  She asked me a few weeks ago if I would continue to be a part of this program and I said yes.  She answered with "good, we need you here."  Those on the autism spectrum can seem impossible to relate with at times but it only takes a moment for the right kind of connection to make all the difference in the world.

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