Unfortunately, in my experience, I have encountered many people who
misinterpret the capabilities of a person with Autism. Mainly, what can be expected from this population has been underestimated. However, many who work with students with autism know their abilities are dynamic. As one of those people, my motivation for the past two years has been to open a window into the world of students with autism and show that with the appropriate support, students will persevere beyond their cognitive variations and accomplish many great things.
Thus, meeting the high expectations established in our classroom, Room 435 Productions presented their use of Comic Life and Garage Band at our school's computer fair. These digital media applications, which are found on MacBook Laptops, were classroom assessments. In other words, after I presented a lesson on dialogue and another on pattern, the students were required to illustrate their understanding. You can view their creations via our classroom Wiki by clicking here.
I presented these projects during a common prep period to show teachers how to implement such software into their own curriculum. The creativity and skill exhibited by the students in Room 435 truly inspired teachers throughout the school; I began to see student generated comics posted both inside and outside of classrooms. I smiled to myself, knowing that Room 435, an Autistic Support classroom, was the catalyst for these exhibitions.
However, it was today where my students experienced the reach of their own accomplishments. I admit, I did not provide them with much preparation to what would be expected of them--I wasn't sure myself. Thrown into the fire of having to present to principals, teachers and peers, initially, they were nervous. However, they quickly adapted, working off the questions that peers and adults were asking.
Vit began to describe what he accomplished and said, "I used creativity and technology and made a comic where this experiment goes wrong and it becomes a zombie and zombies are everywhere and I have to kill them all. It's like realistic and horror fun. And so, I made a song in garage band."
A student questioned, "You made the song too?" When Vit reiterated that he made it, the student's reply was, "That's hot. I like it."
Their enthusiasm in their responses was spellbinding. Both peers and facilitators were impressed, intrigued and inspired. One of Maj's 'cousins,' a term he uses for friend, said:
"Oh Maj, I got tears in my eyes. I'm about to cry."
While Lam was anxious to play some basketball, both Maj and Vit were willing to give up their gym period to see if they won. As we waited to hear the organizers announce each category's winner, both Maj and Vit were telling their friends how nervous they were. While other categories only had one or two entries, the multi-media category had four.
Maj, gripping his fingers together said, "I, I, I never been this nervous before."
Maj and Vit were eager to win. As our classroom was announced as the winner, they jumped up excitedly to claim their awards. Glowing and with smiles from ear to ear, they proudly raised their trophies to the audience and let out a great, "Yeah!"
After the award ceremony I asked both Maj and Vit to give an acceptance speech. Maj began:
"I feel so happy because I won a trophy! And I really so proud of my teacher who's name is Ms. Michele McKeone because she keep me stronger and keep my work hard for for her and then uh, I'm very proud of you. Thank you, Ms. McKeone.
I was surprised and honored to have been given recognition.
"I, I am glad to do this. I'm glad I made the song and everything. And, I'm happy that Ms. McKeone liked the song to put it on there and I'm proud of her."
I reinforced to them that they did all the hard work. It was I who was very proud of them.
Beyond winning the award, my students have felt the recognition for their achievement by their peers. I can only imagine the sense of empowerment this gives them--especially when considering our previous conversation (see Today It Got Deep). I'd like to insist that events such as today's harness a little more consideration for the abilities of students with Autism. For me, their accomplishment reinforces my desire to open that window a bit wider.
Click here to hear the acceptance speeches, pictures, and other video.
Click here to see our winning submission. Share