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beneficii
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15 Aug 2019, 8:59 pm

So I just substitute taught in a special ed class today which is titled "Intensive Autism K-6", which was an interesting experience, especially considering I'm on the spectrum and was in special ed myself as a kid. Of course, some of the instructions are controversial among autism activists, like the emphasis on "calm bodies" and "quiet hands". Still, it was an interesting and rewarding experience.


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blazingstar
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15 Aug 2019, 11:00 pm

That's great. What is it like to have such a wide age spread? How many are in the class? Did you have any aides to assist?


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15 Aug 2019, 11:25 pm

That sounds really cool. I'd like to work with autistic children one day.



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16 Aug 2019, 8:53 am

How interesting, beneficii!



beneficii
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16 Aug 2019, 8:09 pm

blazingstar wrote:
That's great. What is it like to have such a wide age spread? How many are in the class? Did you have any aides to assist?


It seems to be from 3rd to 6th grade. There's 13 students in the class. And yes, I do have aides to assist. Otherwise, it would virtually impossible.

They asked me to come back today so I did. And I'm going back Monday. :D


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Mona Pereth
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16 Aug 2019, 11:21 pm

beneficii wrote:
So I just substitute taught in a special ed class today which is titled "Intensive Autism K-6", which was an interesting experience, especially considering I'm on the spectrum and was in special ed myself as a kid.

I hope that someone, someday, will start at least an informal networking group, and eventually an organization, for people on the autistic spectrum who work, or want to work, in special ed and other services for autistic children.

Eventually it is my hope that such a group could promulgate the desirability of having autistic people work in that field. Personally I think it would be ideal if about 50% of the people who care for autistic children could themselves be autistic. I think there should be NTs involved too; ideally an autistic teacher would be paired with an NT aide, and likewise an NT teacher would be paired with an autistic aide.

It seems to me that some (though by no means all, of course) autistic people would be much better able to empathize with autistic children than any NT possibly could. And it seems to me that autistic teachers/aides/etc. should be recruited specifically for that ability, insofar as they have it. (Of course, an autistic teacher would also need to be knowledgeable about the many varieties of autism, and be familiar with the life experiences of many different autistic people, to avoid overgeneralizing from one's own experience.) On the other hand, there are other aspects of running a classroom that an NT is more likely to be able to handle better.

What do you think?


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Last edited by Mona Pereth on 16 Aug 2019, 11:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

CockneyRebel
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16 Aug 2019, 11:48 pm

It seems like you've had an interesting and awesome day. Right on! 8)


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IstominFan
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17 Aug 2019, 6:50 am

Mona,

I think it's a wonderful idea!



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17 Aug 2019, 5:45 pm

Mona Pereth wrote:
Eventually it is my hope that such a group could promulgate the desirability of having autistic people work in that field. Personally I think it would be ideal if about 50% of the people who care for autistic children could themselves be autistic. I think there should be NTs involved too; ideally an autistic teacher would be paired with an NT aide, and likewise an NT teacher would be paired with an autistic aide.

I know there are autistics who are teachers (and probably amazing teachers), but I find with my own kids that my empathy only gets in the way when it comes to my daughter's probable autism.

I wonder whether more than ratio of actual autistic teachers to nt it might be based on appointment by, for example, a board of predominantly autistic members?


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18 Aug 2019, 10:31 am

It's probably good you did that, but they were discouraging stimming? That's really sad. How can one even think without stimming?


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beneficii
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23 Aug 2019, 12:40 am

So I taught for 5 school days in a row before the teacher could finally show up today. It was interesting. The students are in 4th through 6th grade and quite varied in their abilities. One was completely non-verbal, some were slightly verbal but would not talk very much and not give detailed answers, and some were more verbal; and at least a couple could be considered highly verbal. Looking at my old school records from elementary school, specifically those by my autism resource teacher, I seemed to have a lot of those same issues. One from 6th grade mentioned I was highly verbal, like some of the students in the class.

One common issue was the students needing repeated reminders to even begin their assignments. I had that same issue, as well as problems with transitions. One highly verbal girl was fixated on this story book that was about 2 x 2 or something, and it was about these witches using multiplication to perform magic. She would keep bringing them up.
We would use their interests as rewards. If they got enough stars, they could do their interest. When I spoke to my mom about this, she brought up my interests, like my early elementary school fixation on handicap signs:

Image

My parents seem to remember my special interests very well. Other special interests included ants and tornadoes.

There was loads of other stuff too that seemed to match, so I thought it was very interesting to work with these kids. At the end of it all, I got a thank you note thanking me for getting the school year started for them. :heart:


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Mona Pereth
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23 Aug 2019, 9:53 pm

beneficii wrote:
So I taught for 5 school days in a row before the teacher could finally show up today. It was interesting. The students are in 4th through 6th grade and quite varied in their abilities. One was completely non-verbal, some were slightly verbal but would not talk very much and not give detailed answers, and some were more verbal; and at least a couple could be considered highly verbal.

Were efforts being made to teach the nonverbal kid to read, write/type, and/or use sign language, rather than assuming s/he won't be able to learn anything until s/he starts talking? I would hope so. Many (not all) autistic kids are at least potentially hyperlexic, meaning they have the ability to learn to read and write before they learn to talk.

beneficii wrote:
Looking at my old school records from elementary school, specifically those by my autism resource teacher, I seemed to have a lot of those same issues. One from 6th grade mentioned I was highly verbal, like some of the students in the class.

One common issue was the students needing repeated reminders to even begin their assignments. I had that same issue, as well as problems with transitions. One highly verbal girl was fixated on this story book that was about 2 x 2 or something, and it was about these witches using multiplication to perform magic. She would keep bringing them up.
We would use their interests as rewards. If they got enough stars, they could do their interest.

Has anyone at that school considered using their interests not just as rewards but as teaching tools, i.e. finding ways to incorporate their special interests into the assignments themselves? I bet the students would have had a lot less trouble "even beginning their assignments" if that were done. For example, if the girl with the book about the witches were given customized math lessons involving more stories about the witches, she could probably have learned an awful lot of math very fast.

(Of course, if this wasn't being done, it's certainly not your fault, since you were only a substitute teacher. I'm just pointing out some flaws in what seems to be the standard ABA approach.)

beneficii wrote:
When I spoke to my mom about this, she brought up my interests, like my early elementary school fixation on handicap signs:

[...]

My parents seem to remember my special interests very well. Other special interests included ants and tornadoes.

The latter special interests of yours could have had vast educational potential, had someone seen fit to take advantage of them that way.

beneficii wrote:
There was loads of other stuff too that seemed to match, so I thought it was very interesting to work with these kids. At the end of it all, I got a thank you note thanking me for getting the school year started for them. :heart:

I'm sure it was interesting. We need more autistic people working in this field. Thanks for telling us about it.


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01 Oct 2019, 10:30 am

Honestly, that sounds like an awesome classroom. Many non autistic people would benefit from those techniques as well. I also wish there were more autistic people teaching special ed. And regular ed. I mean, good lord, autistic people are literal, honest, have a talent for finding mistakes, and are the best expert you can find in their individual special interest.

I had to take a class in the Education dept in grad school. Those people were jerks. Catty, cliquish, ableist and strangely racist. Not all, but maybe 75% in the class I had. The other sociology students who took classes in that department said the same. If that happens in other schools as well, it might be discouraging autistic and also just more level headed people from staying with it and becoming teachers.