Facilitator of An Innovative & Dynamic Autistic Support Classroom

My classroom aid and I find ourselves laughing with and often at each other. We agree that in Room 435 behaviors are wildly eccentric and enlightening. While giving our students the tools to navigate society, it is important that we can also preserve each student's intricate personality and autonomy by nurturing their strengths, interest and abilities.

Each day, we are able to enjoy the gifts our extraordinary students present. I'd like to share these gifts, hopefully opening a window in the world of students with autism. It is my goal, to let others see that students with cognitive variations have insight and abilities far beyond what many may imagine. Enjoy.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Autism Awareness Event for the School District

After winning third place at the Philadelphia Regional Computer Fair Competition, our students were asked to present at the 3rd Annual Autism Expo. The Expo included state legislators, researchers, advocates, superintendents, parents, teachers and anyone else interested in networking with providers who specialize in resources for students with Autism...

For this event, we were able to bring the entire class. This was especially exciting; it allowed the three students who competed in the computer fair to show off to their peers what they has accomplished. Additionally, it allowed the other students to not only be excited and supportive of their peers, but to also look forward to their own participation in next year's competition.

While many of the speakers at this event were informative, I think I was most intrigued with Dr. David Mandell, a researcher from The University of Pennsylvania. In his findings from his most recent research, which has been noted as "the largest randomized trial to date of a behavioral intervention for children with autism," he made a quick and subtle point that noted the need to 'update' the high school level curriculum for students with Autism.

This immediately reinforced my own ideas and goals to develop a specially designed curriculum that speaks to the acquisition of Digital Age learning skills. I invited David to come check out our award winning Computer Fair Project.

He got it. I was flattered and excited when he spoke of moving forward in the fall and asked if I was interested in perhaps being part of the conversation/process.

I am very interested.

There were many other interesting offers I received from this experience such as a principal's request to facilitate a teacher workshop at his school. It seems that I am doing something that others in the educational industry find valuable. That is really exciting; especially because I am so heavily invested in this idea and working so hard to have it come to fruition on a larger scale. I hope this interest spreads like a wild fire because I truly believe that it is the minimum of what is appropriate for our students with Autism.


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