The first thing I want to make apparent for this post is an amazing site to gain awareness on autism: http://www.autismspeaks.org/
The short documentary “I Want To Say” is a look into the lives of several children who struggle with autism. They conduct interviews with the families and the children. However, the video mostly portrays how difficult it can be for people with autism to communicate. The difficulties do not just start with writing and reading, but being able to speak. An important aspect to this video is technology. Technology is starting to play a huge role in school and students who have autism are now being encouraged to use this to its full ability. Touch screens are big parts of this technology era. The students are using these touch screens to not only communicate, but to further their learning of words writing. They now have something that allows them to communicate. These touch screen tablets are a way that has helped many students have a voice and show their true personalities. It is important to realize that there is a wide range on this scale and not all kids who have autism are the same and do the same things. Some things may work for some students while not working for others. Being able to allow every student reach their full potential is extremely important and technology is allowing students with autism to finally show what their potential can truly be. Personally I enjoyed this short documentary a great deal. It showed some great insight and allows you to see the potential children with autism have. The use of technology is a great way to try and engage students with autism as well as letting them show their minds and personality.
Sorcher, P. (Director) (2013). I want to say [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iu3c8fqBQcA
“Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes you Knew”, by Ellen Notbohm, is a journal article that highlights exactly what the title says. This article talks about many aspects in the life of somebody who has autism. However, there are a few things I want to fixate on. One area Notbohm talks about is over stimulated places. Tasks that most people take for granted can cause a brain overload for somebody who has autism. Notbohm talks about a simple trip to the grocery store turns into something very difficult for people who have autism. They literally hear everything that is going on and all their sense are getting overloaded. This is important to take note of because how do you think students who have autism feel when there is noise when they are reading or writing. Another area Notbohm touches on receptive and expressive language and vocabulary. She says that when teachers shout across the room and give direction she does not hear one single thing they say. Instead go up to students with autism and tell them what you want them to do and then what to do next. Do not use puns, metaphors, or sarcasm to try and relay something because students who have autism quite often take the phrases seriously and don’t realize what is happening. Another aspect that Notbohm touches on is slim vocabulary. Do not get overly frustrated because students with autism often have slimmer vocabularies. They are trying just as hard as you are to succeed, but sometimes they just don’t know how to express what they mean in words. Notbohm also talks about an area that applies to every student. They will not learn in an environment at which they do not feel comfortable. No student wants to learn in place where they will be criticized and humiliated for doing something wrong. They have to feel like they are enough. This is a very good read for anybody. It points out some very interesting facts and concepts throughout the article.
Notbohm, E. (2005). Ten things every child with autism wishes you knew. Retrieved from http://icdd.idaho.gov/pdf/parent_league/TenThingsEveryChild.pdf
I have recently read a blog post from a mother, Hayley Harris, which talks about her son, Donovyn, who has autism. She talks about how at first nobody really knew how to diagnose him. Their family would have to go to all these appointments and doctor visits for treatments that they really didn’t know about. Because of his struggles in reading, writing, and math he was now performing at a first grade level while he was 14. This was very difficult on Donovyn’s life because he could not socialize with friends his age. Hayley Harris talks about how Donovyn asked for a surprise birthday part, but then said I don’t have any friends to invite. This broke my heart when I heard this. As educators we should never let students feel like they are useless. Every student has special gifts they bring to the table. Also help and encourage students to make friends. A child should never be alone, without any friends. I think this blog is an eye opener for sure. Children with autism can be very difficult, but they are amazing people who have tons to offer. For example, Donovyn participates in charities and walks for autism consistently. Caring is a great gift to give and receive.
Harris, H. (2012, November 14). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://www.autismspeaks.org/blog/2012/11/14/how-do-i-summarize-my-son-donovyn’s-journey-autism
“Planning instruction and self-regulation training: Effects on writers with autism spectrum disorders”, was a study done to see how well planning and self-regulation worked with students who are ASD. The task they had to perform using these techniques was writing a story. Three children were taught an approach using the self-regulated strategy development (SRSD) method. The SRSD is broken into three parts: “First, through direct instruction and guided and independent practice, students learn to carry out typical composing processes such as planning. Second, students develop the knowledge and self-regulatory procedures (e.g., goal setting, self-monitoring, self-instruction, and self-reinforcement) they need to utilize the writing strategies while composing. Finally, SRSD targets specific motivational aspects such as self-efficacy and effort” (Asaro-Saddler & Saddler, 2010). At the end of the study the students showed improvement in more than a few categories. The study concluded that this is beneficial to ASD students in fourth grade and second grade. Personally I think this is a good start, but I feel that more than this is needed especially as students with ASD in the elementary level. I feel there is no one way to teach students especially ASD students. You cannot categorize all ASD students the same because the truth is they are not. This may work for some students and not for others. We will not know if they keep on doing these studies only on two or three people.
Asaro-Saddler, K., & Saddler, B. (2010). Planning instruction and self-regulation training: Effects on writers with autism spectrum disorders.Exceptional Children, 77(1), 107-124.
This web blog was very interesting to me because it is about a lady, Erin Clemens, who has autism. She often struggled in school and struggled socially. But that is not why I enjoyed this blog post. I enjoyed this because one day she lost her purse. She could not get a new purse because all of her money was in the purse she lost. So she went online to see how to make a purse and ductape purses came up. It is from this idea that she started making autism awareness bracelets out of ductape. The best part about this story is that she gives all the money to help student who have autism. She provided an iPad along with some other things to a school with kids who have autism. This year she wants to do even more so she put out this post trying to get people’s awareness up not only her bracelets, but on autism. Erin Clemens is truly an amazing woman for doing this and I can’t wait to see how this year turns out.
Clemens, E. (2013, February 22). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://www.autismspeaks.org/blog/2013/02/22/heart-autism-spreading-autism-awareness-duct-tape