Why It’s Mandatory for Court Personnel to Be Autism Aware!

By Trish Ieraci Do we need all court personnel to be autism aware? When he was 13, my son with autism was subpoenaed to appear in court. He was a victim—A young man in school felt it was okay to hit my son, not once, but twice within the same week. Supposedly my son looked "funny" to him. The case was turned over to the State Attorney's Office. When we received the subpoena I knew that I had to prepare my son.  I advised him that we would have to go to court. The first words out of my son’s mouth were "I'm going to kill him.” I knew my … [Read more...]

4 Ways to Differentiate in a Special Ed Classroom

By Trisha Katkin As teachers, we are always told, “every child is unique,” and “each one is different.” And I believe that this is true. HOWEVER… When you are trying to handle a busy class with students that are all on different wavelengths, it can be mind-boggling to figure out how to accommodate everyone. It gets tricky when you have students of various abilities, strengths and weaknesses. So, what can you do? Differentiate! Differentiation is the process by which one accommodates students and their various needs. It’s what … [Read more...]

What is the Impact of “Old School” Thinking?

It’s been 21 years since my son was in 5th grade, but the memory of what his science teacher did to him is still fresh in my mind. While he was at his first elementary school, we didn’t know he was on the autism spectrum. What we did know was that he had some learning disabilities which made it difficult for him to function in a traditional classroom without extra support. “Old School” Thinking My son loved to learn! But he struggled at a traditional school with teachers who practiced “old school” teaching methods. In 5th grade, more written … [Read more...]

What Your Autistic Students Want You to Know

What are your autistic students experiencing? What might they be thinking? How might they be feeling? I can’t tell you what your autistic students want to know because I’m not autistic. Seeking the advice of autistic adults can truly help us understand what we should know and how we as parents and educators can help. I can’t think of two better people to turn to than Lydia Wayman and Megan Amodeo. Lydia is an autistic writer, speaker, and advocate. She has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and a Masters in English and … [Read more...]

How to Win at the Friendship Game!

“Well, hello folks! Welcome to The Friendship Game, the only game show where everyone’s a winner because everyone gets a friend!” Navigating the social world is challenging for everyone and making friends is one of the most socially complicated. Some people have the natural ability to network, make connections, and know how to grow them into friendships. You can see it even when they are children…the ones who just know how to hang out make everyone feel welcome and comfortable. When my autistic son was growing up, friendships didn’t come … [Read more...]

How Will You Make an ‘Acceptance’ Impact?

April is here and in addition to being known for its “showers that bring May flowers,” it’s also when there’s a national spotlight on autism. April Autism Awareness month is not without its controversies as many in the autism community feel it’s time to shift beyond the public’s awareness and emphasize acceptance.  I mean, after decades of a nationwide effort in April, isn’t everyone “aware” of autism by now? What I like about there being a special month devoted to autism awareness, is that the media will more likely cover topics related to … [Read more...]

“Communication for All” Innovative Assistive Technology in Action

“When you walk into the classrooms at Jesse Baker School, what you see are engaged students,” said Sharon Stanley, a Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP) for the Elk Grove Unified School District (Sacramento County).  Sharon works with the team of educators at The Jesse Baker School, an extraordinary elementary school for students with special needs. Their mission? To provide “a full-spectrum education for their exceptional students.” As an SLP, Sharon’s motto for all children is “Communication for All,” and she is dedicated to making … [Read more...]

Why Autism Needs to Be Taught in the Classroom

I am sure that most of you by now have heard the term “autism awareness” and you probably know that there is a national autism awareness month every April. It was so declared by the Autism Society in April of 1970 and its intent was to educate the public about Autism Spectrum Disorder. So for 45 years we’ve been raising awareness. It’s not surprising that there’s a growing trend within the autism community to evolve that term into “autism acceptance.” So many of us—parents and autistic individuals—feel that we need to move the public past … [Read more...]

Autism Insider on “Love”

I love you.  Those famous three little words.  They mean something different to everyone. Most "typical" individuals view love as an emotion or feeling that is just present in them naturally.  A man loves his wife, a child loves her grandmother, or any number of combinations come to mind when thinking about love. Now I am not going to get all philosophical and deep about the topic of love. I will leave that discussion to the poets and romantics. I bring up the subject because many individuals on the autism spectrum have a unique way of … [Read more...]