Back to School
By Phuong Nguyen
Program Assistant, Autism NOW Center
My 12-year-old sister’s frantic search for new clothes, shoes and school supplies signifies the start of a new school year. She is entering 7th grade, her second year in middle school. When she first made the transition from elementary to middle school, my parents and I had our concerns. She was moving to a different school with new peers, and we wanted her experience there to be a positive one. I think it’s safe to say that as family members, we all want our loved ones to be in an educational environment that allows them to thrive – one that makes them feel safe, accepted and included. I have spoken to a few parents of children with autism and can tell that for these families, this is especially important.
With this in mind, the August 2013 Prism e-newsletter highlights useful information and resources that school-aged youth with autism and their families can take with them into the new school year.
Autism NOW Resources
The Autism NOW Center’s In the Classroom section provides information on education-related subjects such as individualized education programs, transition planning, post-secondary education and more.
If you are looking for materials to assist members of the school community (teachers, classmates, bus drivers, nurses, etc.) in understanding and supporting students with autism, check out Autism Speaks’ School Community Tool Kit.
In his blog, “Living with Autism in the Classroom,” Kristofor Medina reflects on his experiences in school and offers an honest glimpse into what life in the classroom for him was like as an individual with autism.
Autism Pride: What are we learning from others?
An internship program designed to meet the specific needs of young people with autism demonstrates that extra job training leads to increased rates of employment. Read about how Project SEARCH has helped 21 students earn competitive jobs.
Although this particular story is several years old, here is a wonderful example of how teenagers with autism are high achievers in school. Read about how Eric Duquette proudly served as the salutatorian of Smithfield High School in Rhode Island. Watch this video to hear his moving graduation speech.
What does the research tell us?
A recent study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital indicated that children with autism and average IQs consistently demonstrated superior math skills compared with their peers without autism that are in the same IQ range.
What other strengths and exceptional abilities do individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities possess that have yet to be discovered? And what can we do as family members, educators and professionals to best support them in their endeavors? These are questions that are worth asking as we head into the new school year.