Today is a special day for many parents, relatives, friends and also teachers around the world. It is the World Autism Awareness day. Unfortunately, Autistic children have faced the melancholic and the “blue” side of this day. Some of them are fighting against prejudice, high-cost in treatments and a real inclusive education.
We are raising awareness of autism all over the world, to show that 1 percent of the world population has autism spectrum disorder and, it doesn’t matter which country you come from, most of us do not know what autism is and how to engage, motivate or work with them.
I have delivered some talks and workshops since last year and, I have got some feedbacks from teachers, schools, parents and on. Teachers calling for help – how to deal with autistic kids is on the top of the list. Some parents feedbacks where they can find treatments, mediators and on; Schools how to adapt materials, mediators and teaching development focus on SEN and I have been sharing my own experience as teacher, mediator and a mother of an amazing prince.
In all of these feedbacks, they want to include their students and children or siblings in our society, where their beloved ones would have more life opportunities, social interaction without prejudice in an inclusive school as like everybody else well known as “regular”. That is the expectation for those who wants their children overcome the Autism disorder.
Focus on the educational point of view, there is a huge gap when it comes to teaching a child with autism. Many teachers do not know how to work with them and how to engage them in an inclusive environment. Some schools or institutions take for guarantee small classrooms and mediators who might solve the problem. Sadly, it is not so simple. Teaching children with special needs require teachers and educators to develop their teaching skills, time and affection. In addition to teachers and educators have to take into consideration that, their SEN students have their own way of learning and their own moment what for us teachers are in a continuous process of experiments and researches.
Most of the time, these experimental practices and researches are not available in a High Education, mainly in some emerging countries such as Brazil. Moreover, many of us who had graduated a long time ago, just heard about it and when it comes to facing a regular classroom where there are kids with this particular issue, we get stuck or feel insecure to teach them. Even though, we have been teaching for a long time. According to some statistics, Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability so that we are going to face this reality in a moment of our career and, we have to be prepared for it.
So here I would like to give some piece of advice, it has been working with my students and I would like to share with you. Teaching kids with autism is not too difficult as you can think. I suggest you these three aspects that I have considered important while I was observing classes where I was as a mediator. These three aspects are
Pace, Time and different learning styles.
Pace – each autistic child has their own moment to get involved in an activity that you propose them to do. Do not insist on activities that will frustrated or discouraged them. Most of them love challenges from simple to the most difficult one.
Time – They have their own time to learn things, so demanding them will not help both sides. It takes time (hours, days, weeks, months or years) to produce something and when they start their journey through learning new things, it is the proper time to engage them with other students, as peer work and on. However, it is necessary to create a learning routine – time to read, write, speak, listen. Thus, you will work with them the skills and their autonomy as well.
Different learning styles – Some educators and teachers cannot agree with me. However, we have different styles of learning and the same thing happens when we are teaching kids with some disabilities. Observing my students, I could find out what kind of learner they are ( logical, visual and on). Knowing that, you can adapt materials which will help you to teach, motivate and engage them with the entire class. Here it is a video from TED with Dr.Temple Grandin a point of view of an autistic child.
I did not mention one important aspect. When we teach kids with disabilities or SEN, it is necessary and important to use your emotion and feelings. I have to love what I do and for me an affective learning can help them to overcome the autism barriers expressing their feelings, what it is so difficult for some of them. As Paulo Freire said once “Teachers should have their own dreams and utopias” I have my own dream that one day one of my students will be considered a good man or woman who interact not only with their friends and family but also with many people around the world. For us who are engaged to this action, look the world differently is not a problem, we have to learn that we can see life in different perspectives.
This is my contribution for this day. I know that perfection will never EXIST in this world, but helping these kids open their horizon will be a dream come true.
So, let light it up BLUE.
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