Extending the benefits of the inclusive classroom: Introducing a program for neurodiversity in K-12 through children’s literature and storytelling

Introduction

Neurodiversity, Inclusion and SEL

With the statistical prevalence of autism diagnoses in the US currently at 1 in 68, remaining steady since 2014 (retrieved from http://autismsciencefoundation.org/what-is-autism/how-common-is-autism/), it is clear that our experience of autism as a significant presence in classrooms, and for our purposes, in inclusion classrooms, would seem to require us as educators to look innovatively and certainly dynamically, at creating and promoting teaching strategies/approaches for optimum success.

Instruction and materials to promote multicultural themes and diversity are more than a long-standing trend in our classrooms: they are both necessary and desirable, particularly as our world raises issues of concern for different peoples – peoples likely to be (mis)characterized out of fear or ignorance, their identity and communities under threat. We now include issues of gender as well as race and ethnicity into notions of diversity so that we as teachers may redirect a tendency to marginalize “the Other” (Zevallos, 2011).

Such instruction is the compassionate choice, and compassion is key to incorporating SEL (social and emotional learning) interventions in our classrooms (Katz & Porath, 2011).

Children with disabilities or special needs, instructed side by side with typical peers in inclusive classrooms, pose an equal concern for fostering understanding and compassion around diversity and difference. It is important to note that results for inclusion have been overwhelmingly positive over a significant period of reflection and study (Peetsma et al, 2001; Browder et al, 2014; more are provided in Appendix I).

Moreover, disabilities and special needs must themselves be framed to promote greater compassion and understanding. And in this regard, in the broader world of reframing disability, as diversity, we have a new view of autism: the neurodiversity movement.

It is interesting to note that the most visible author of the neurodiversity movement, Steve Silberman (Neurotribes, 2015), while apparently NT (neurotypical), is an older gay man: no doubt the lens through which he captured and formed a new model for people on the autism spectrum reflects the gains and the struggles of the gay liberation and civil rights movement.  Moreover, we are seeing a framing of disability as a civil rights movement in public consciousness and advocacy. Social media has also helped to create a strong and vibrant movement of parent-advocates, and to promote a new way to envision success for special needs children. Parents and educators now gather routinely across vast, virtual distances to share information and experience, empowering others as well as themselves, as they take their individual journeys transparently, in an open forum, to advance the needs of their children with disabilities or special needs.

Focus: the child on the autism spectrum

Inclusion means that children on the spectrum will have mainstream placements; as they mature alongside their NT (neurotypical) peers, their presence should require us to institute a conscious plan for introducing them to their peers, with support, respect and compassion. Children with HFA (high functioning autism) or what used to be called clinically and continues to be, popularly, Asperger’s Syndrome (AS), may not be identified by others, peers and teachers alike, until they exhibit “quirky” behaviors or interests, or modes of communication, which set them apart, perhaps awkwardly, as peers collide and bump into social communications interactions and expectations that may shine a glaring light on their deficits in this area. They are thereby at risk for social isolation and bullying.

Adolescents in particular have been seen to be at significant risk in school populations (Locke et al, 2010). Young people with disabilities or special needs can be afforded fuller social and community support (Carter et al, 2011). We need to begin at the elementary level (Rotheram-Fuller et al, 2010).

For purposes of transition, in my own experience, it is often the goal of high school to empower and support adolescents to self-disclose and above all, to self-advocate, as they approach college and employment. But, at the elementary school level, how might we begin? It is not advisable to move toward “outing” of individual children on the spectrum the same way we might encourage Latino children to emerge and talk about their traditions for Cinco de Mayo. Pull-out programming, most commonly for social skills support, may also create a silhouette of difference and speculation around such children.

Our approach to social skills, and our positioning of the child on the spectrum whose placement is in an inclusion – mainstream – environment, has long been based on a deficits model. This model is being replaced in both the cognitive science (Dawson et al, 2007) and social/instructional programming contexts (Koetler & Koenig, 2012) with a strengths-based model.

I for one would like to “go there,” in our inclusive classrooms.

Instructional implementation and teaching scenarios

The onus for understanding and acclimating to the neurotypical world has fallen on children on the spectrum for far too long. With neurodiversity emerging as the new paradigm, I’d like to see all children in an inclusive setting be introduced to the notion of different “wiring,” the hallmarks of ASD, strengths and social communications differences foregrounded equally; to begin to allow the notion of neurodiversity to enlarge their view of acceptance, to guard against marginalization and bullying.

That is, if children can meet one another halfway, then the onus is not on the child with differences to take on the additional social stressors of fitting in against all odds. I believe this will be particularly of use in elementary school. If we posit that it is not advisable to “out” children on the spectrum, and because these children may be subject to pull-out programs for social skills, thereby identifiable as different/bad by their peers, we will want, for reasons of compassion in teaching, with SEL as a good model, to shift this to different/good. As with gender and cultural diversity models, individuals on the spectrum are with us in our classrooms, where they will make excellent collaborative partners; later, they will make significant contributions to many fields of endeavor.

As in the chart I have devised (see Appendix), the K-12 plan should take children from elementary school reading and literature into high school reading and literature to introduce hallmarks of ASD/Asperger’s as subject matter to be handled in content and encouraged in classroom discussions, with an eye to what is appropriate or desirable developmentally.

From a special educator’s point of view, individuals on the spectrum require some flexibility in social communications in order to thrive. If this is modeled in the inclusive classroom for children not on the spectrum, as the objective of a series of literature units, over time, we may achieve a much improved, compassionate and aware social and community component of education, as currently advocated by SEL approaches. And if even if we did not have SEL as a reference point, or tool kit, this would still in essence be an overarching objective as educators.

A note on ethnic and racial diversity

Colleagues who have reviewed the offerings in this paper have pointed out the lack of ethnic and racial diversity in materials highlighted here. My own experience and empirical data collection over the past five years have led me to believe that in fact the children who present in classrooms, in community-based forums and after school programs, are quite diverse racially and ethnically.

I have therefore added to the materials presented here accordingly if not abundantly, and will go forward seeking out such materials (see below).

In fact, I must note here that my former student Chris Ulmer – and while I am proud of him I can take little credit in what he has become – has piloted a project and nonprofit organization, Special Books for Special Kids. In part, his efforts show the public, on social and broadcast media, that diversity in autism is very much a reality – in fact, as is evident from the copy from his website, shown below, Chris foregrounds neurodiversity per se (https://www.facebook.com/search/top/q=special%20books%20by%20special%20kids).

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Annotated Bibliography and Teaching Scenarios

Objective: To encourage acceptance, understanding and mutual respect between children on the autism spectrum and their neurotypical (NT) peers. These books are designed to bridge the gap in understanding difference and recognizing strengths. This overarching objective includes the move away from a deficits-based to a strengths-based model, to scaffold both readership and social communications in the inclusion classroom, as well as to eliminate feelings of isolation, marginalization, and bullying. A still deeper-level objective is to scaffold social skills support (where this is pull-out or wrap-around on an individual basis), to create an environment of awareness and compassion without necessarily having to “out” children with the diagnosis of ASD.

Elementary: Books to share with children ages 8 to 9

All cats have Asperger Syndrome (2006), by Kathy Hoopmann. If there is a gold standard in this category, or perhaps, if you’re not averse to being a child at heart, in any category, this is it. Its pictures are fun, sympathetic and engaging. The text is readable for out loud circle time or small group sharing as well as quiet reading or perusal. And it imparts a helluva lot of information (to use a Salingerism). It might be said to spoon feed, but it’s superbly accessible and on the money. And who can resist baby animals, especially kittens? My husband still cries when he reads this book; he says, “it cushions the blow of a diagnosis or painful subject while providing an accessible medium for understanding between parent and child [or teacher and child]; it provides an intuitive nonthreatening signs and symptoms of Aspergers and the language to discuss [these] both for the child and parent [or teacher].” In other words, to recognize the hallmarks of AS in a calm and gentle manner which is still informative and instructive. Hoopmann has also authored Inside Asperger’s looking out, which continues to help make specific and understandable the potential for conflict and confusion that may characterize interactions with children on the spectrum, and which they cannot articulate as yet, and so, here, these matters are articulated for them, again, with great clarity and gentleness.

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Different Like Me: My book of autism heroes (2006), by Jennifer Elder. What is great about this book is that it is introduced by a kid, Quinn, who is drawn just as the other well-known figures in the books are drawn, who greets us and acts as a kind of guide to the book, and who has autism. What follows are mini-biographies of famous people through current day who have achieved significantly yet have autism (or who, to be fair, in some cases, we retrospectively can infer had autism). An important aspect of this book’s content is that its historical figures do indeed represent some diversity in race, ethnicity and gender.

To Be Me (2005), by Rebecca Etlinger.  This book highlights in text and pictures some of the school-aged and school classroom related problems or sources of confusion for a child on the spectrum. The pictures and text provide a working through of these solutions and is more strengths-based than deficits-based, but is honest about what deficits or problems might look like, for the child with autism and for others.

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What it is to be Me! (2005) by Angela Wine is the shortest and simplest – the smallest, tightest – book for the younger children or the children who might not stick with a longer book. The very youngest or those with the most limitations but who want a quick introduction would find this useful, and could move on to more elaborated texts.

 

A Friend Like Simon (2009) by Kate Gaynor is also a short, tight book which encourages friendship to be valued and pursued beyond the “first impression” of eye contact failure or seeking solitude or being awkward. NT kids who should have, developmentally, the smallest amount of straightforward, simple guidance on the fact of autism and the encouragement to make friends beyond difference, but understanding difference, will find this helpful. Teachers can read this aloud and elicit comprehension in circle time with this book.

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An additional teaching scenario could emerge as a nonfiction assignment, in which pairs or small groups within a classroom choose one of the “autism heroes” from Different Like Me to explore. Since the phrase and the notion of Different Like Me can and does embrace ethnic, gender and racial difference, as well as different interests and professions, there would be a great deal to explore here. The possibilities for reaching true universality are embedded in teaching through this particularly text.

Now an overly clever child might perhaps say, How do we know? How do we know they had this diagnosis? (This is also a question an adult might well ask and due to constraints of time and space will not be pursued here.) This itself is worthwhile to pursue, and we can ask a series of questions to extend our teaching scenario: What are the hallmarks of being on the spectrum, what kinds of characteristics? How do you think the decision might have been made that these people out of the past “meet the requirements”?

Elementary level books which highlight diversity, and which address the issues of siblings

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My Brother Charlie (2016) by Holly Robinson Peete and Ryan Elizabeth Peete, Since We’re Friends (2012) by Celeste Shally and David Harrington, are suitable for sharing with elementary school readers in the same vein as those above; Autism and Me: Sibling Stories (2009) by Ouisie Shapiro entails a bit more depth, and may take children into upper elementary school reading.

As discussed briefly above, it is a bit more difficult to locate materials which reflect racial and ethnic diversity; I did locate these fairly quickly on amazon.com. Interestingly, one of these two books which show people of color also addresses family relationships, and sibling issues.

Siblings can be hidden casualties of families in which there is a special needs child. I say this here in a more or less anecdotal basis, based on first-hand experience and direct communication from a social worker, and an elementary school teacher, each about 20 years’ experience. I think it’s great that there are books which address this set of issues, and they should be available to children in inclusive classrooms as they are helpful for siblings as well as for reflecting a familial and therefore compassionate acceptance and understanding.

 

Elementary moving towards Middle School: Books to share with children ages 9 – 13

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Can I tell you about Asperger Syndrome? (2004), by Jude Welton should be kept on hand for children who seek out more information, whether on the spectrum or NT, and more encouragement to be helpful, or to recognize that it is ok to ask for help – important to underscore as a way of paving a firm, encouraged path towards self-advocacy.

This book greets the casual perusing reader with its cover greeting/intro – a line drawing of boy with a cartoon speech balloon bubble, “Hello. My name is Adam. I have Asperger Syndrome.”  This book, as with the previous book on autism heroes, does some of the work for affected children by foregrounding an introduction, a fixture of social communications which typically eludes affected children. Thus this book provides a welcome bridge from the subject matter to either a NT child reader or a child on the spectrum who may be asked to tell the class more, as he or she wishes to do so – or perhaps an older child as a visiting guest might do so. The book, as the cover indicates (not shown here) also contains, “tips for teachers.”

I would suggest this book be used one-on-one or in small groups with close guidance by the teacher.

Again, this book encourages awareness, compassion and self-advocacy.

Books for middle school children into early high school years: a deeper, close read, and foster discussion

Interestingly, the following three books are all journals, or contain journals; that is, they all fall within the genre of first person narrative/journal as their structure. They are also somewhat in the vein of stream of consciousness, internal monologue and/or are free associative. They are also snapshots of an age, and in one case autobiographical (as a snapshot). As such, they create wonderful opportunities to compare and contrast ways of employing these hallmarks of literature and writing: genre, narrative, voice, even linearity.

Harriet the Spy (1964) by Louise Fitzhugh and The Reason I Jump (2007; 20016 with reader’s guide and expanded features) by Naoki Higashida are fun pleasurable reads, with humor and warmth as well as illustrations. Jump features short, essay-like anecdotes and observations mixed in with honest questions and honest answers. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night (2003), by Mark Haddon, also features illustrations, even jottings, but is more dense and will require more time and focus to digest. I’ve actually placed them on a visual continuum of age as well as difficulty, but the age range for reading them would be more or less middle school; however, it is possible that Dog may require more availability on the student reader’s part for density, shifts in focus, space and time, depth and patience.

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Harriet the Spy (1964), by Louise Fitzhugh, is surprisingly not dated, although a Manhattan lifestyle still requires explanation.

If we draw any kind of longitudinal line from Hoopmann to Fitzhugh, there is a page in All Cats Have Aspergers that imparts the information that kids on the spectrum like to eat the same thing each day. Well, Harriet never leaves her house without a tomato sandwich.

While the books prior to these and accompanying Harriet are contextualized as bringing information on ASD/AS to the neurotypical world, the dark horse here is Harriet the Spy. As far as I know, no one has “outed” Harriet, yet I believe she is a child character with quintessential ASD/AS behavior and insight, and would be instantly recognizable by Hans (Asperger).

I should stop and point out here that Harriet, Naoki, and Christopher, the protagonist of Dog, are all around the same age; Harriet is 11, Naoki and Christopher are 13. So their world view is that of a middle school aged child. So they have this in common, more or less.

Thus, when we read these books, we inhabit similar worlds of school, friends, classmates, peers, the usual nemesis, and of adults seen (and wondered at) from a child’s (limited) point of view, made perhaps moreso by ASD/AS.

Harriet is often pegged as a “classic” childhood read, and it’s astonishing how little dated it is. It may be welcomed and accessible for a “close read” by children in the middle school years who appreciate humor, the off-beat, a sense of undisguised curiosity and a little daring. (It’s also a good companion piece to books like EL Konigsburg’s 1967 book, reissued 2007, The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.) Harriet also has some laugh-aloud, cartoonish pictures that will delight the middle schooler who is becoming adolescent.

In planning and embarking on a unit around reading I would ask the class as a group of readers, Do you think Harriet is on the spectrum, with what we know about the hallmarks of ASD/AS, why or why not? This might elicit and/or reinforce knowledge of these hallmarks, and, in classrooms where this can happen comfortably, NT and ASD children can share their “takes” on these features.

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High School

This is the age where, I believe, self-disclosure, with support, and self-advocacy ought to begin. In fact I do know firsthand that this is the life stage when special education case managers introduce self-advocacy as part of transition programming.

For those children who have followed the arc from All Cats through Dog in the Night to here, we can continue our discussions and explorations more and more fruitfully and in depth, and with many more teaching scenarios.

(It is possible that considering the difficulty and density of Dog in the Night it might be a lead-in for this age group, particularly at the 9th grade level; and so I include it again here.)

The issues confronting high school students have a great deal to do with society, identity, and, commonly, self-advocacy as a part of transition plans for children with special needs.

Because we can and should require more depth in a student’s critical thinking and writing in high school, and if we go into a nonfiction vein, we find Carly’s Voice (2012) by Arthur and daughter Carly Fleischmann, An Unexpected Life (2011) by Debra Chwast, Elijah’s Cup by Valerie Paradiz, (2002, 2005) and Life, Animated by Ron Suskind (2015) (which has also been made into a documentary feature film), are books which foreground a parent and a child on the spectrum, and their quest for breakthrough understanding of the diagnosis. Moreover, they are presentations of several points along the autism spectrum, all yielding remarkable achievements, as well as genuine pain.

These books are also on a direct line or arc from the family/siblings books from elementary and middle school.

Of course, a student reader might also want to read Temple Grandin’s books, which would be highly accessible for high school level reading.

This would be in line with the elementary experience of drawing forth figures from Different Like Me, enhancing the learning and teaching experiences.

An Unexpected Life highlights artworks; writing itself is another thread we can follow and wind through with contributions by those we now believe were also on the autism spectrum.

In line with the elementary experience of drawing forth figures from Different Like Me, which does in fact include Temple Grandin, are traits of autism as located in literary figures: Julie Brown’s Writers on the Spectrum: How Autism and Asperger Syndrome Have Influenced Literary Writing (2010). Writers include Lewis Carroll, Thoreau, Melville, Yeats and Emily Dickinson.

Here is a particularly evocative passage by the author Julie Brown:

As a lifelong writing instructor, I have taught thousands of students how to express themselves, communicate, and create works of art with their writing. In recent years it has been my privilege to work with college students who are on the autism spectrum. …Teaching them has given me the opportunity to observe closely the impact that neurological wiring has on how people write, what they choose to write about, and how they use language … (p. 9)

Thus, we can encourage students who are themselves on the spectrum to write, perhaps with more courage, and we can also offer a view of the autistic mind in literary works admired throughout the world.

Finally, and this is going out on a limb, but I think it is certainly worth considering launching a guided exploration of the works of JD Salinger and his family of characters as also sharing the hallmarks of being on the spectrum. While Catcher in the Rye is de rigeur, my all-time favorite and recommendation is Franny and Zooey. And you can add in the books of his collected stories.

So, as before, but with more critical thinking focus, breadth as well as depth, we can ask, What are we looking for in demeanor, in interests, in challenges? How might we look for “clues” as to a diagnosis retroactively? How have writers and other figures been placed on the spectrum?

High school students can and perhaps should be challenged by studying the collected works, or oeuvre, of an author, in depth, and studying Salinger’s works presents a strong through-line of character and, perhaps, obsessive focus.

The premise that we are dealing with minds on the spectrum adds a dimension to a close read of these books which are so quirky, so self-conscious and so closed in on themselves that there might not be much of a stretch here. Again, however, if the achievements by Salinger to American literature hold true, then to admire his prose is to admire the strengths of a writer most probably on the autism spectrum or, at the very least, with some challenges that led him into an infamously marginalized existence, one reflected in its earliest stages in his novels and short stories.

High school students might also enjoy viewing the documentary about Salinger’s life, Salinger (2013).  I endorse the addition of films and videos to supplement literary assignments beginning as early as middle school but certainly in high school, when shaping the interests and acumen for such media is a content area worth pursuing in classrooms.

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Additional Resources for the teacher

Sainsbury, C. (2009). Martian in the playground: understanding the schoolchild with Asperger’s Syndrome. (rev. ed.) London, UK: Sage.

Written by a professional educator with AS (Asperger’s Syndrome), the foreword tells us that author Clare “gives us information ’from the inside’” (ix). This book is a guide for educators who want to be fully informed but who appreciate not being so in clinical mode; who would like a more compassionate and thoughtful relationship with children on the spectrum and in particular those with Asperger’s. While this term is no longer in the DSM, it is still used because it connotes as well as denotes what one is in for, in general terms, when, in an inclusive setting, one has children with HFA (high functioning autism) in the class, which may mean quite frequently that they are indeed AS.

Grenot-Scheyer, M., Fisher, M. & Staub, D. (2001). At the end of the day: lessons learned in inclusive education. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.

Includes a chapter on a second grade child with ASD – not HFA or AS, but ASD with little or no verbal ability. The child’s history, as in an intake but not in clinical language so much as in narrative prose, strategies, materials and interventions are laid out in great detail, so that who this child is at home, and how this team works with this child may be taken up as a model for implementing inclusive education which works towards success; for a proactive, reflective, peaceful, and hopeful experience and outlook. While this child is not verbal there are hallmarks of ASD as well as strategies which are instructive. This may indicate what the baseline for ASD found in inclusion might be in terms of lower level functioning. In our district, such children are in autism-support classrooms with life skills and so forth, but it is heartening to read this story and to see the strategies unfold. This book is a very useful as well as, yes, heartening and detailed manual for special education across a variety of disabilities. It is written by special education faculty and a special education coordinator.

Information and anecdotes or narrative offerings may help the general education teacher create and engage in discussion around the literature.

Both books include references and sources for further information.

 

References

Browder, D. M., Hudson, M. E., & Wood, L. (2014). Using principles of high quality instruction   in the general education classroom to provide access to the general education curriculum. Handbook of research and practice for effective inclusive schools, 339-351.

Carter, E. W., Moss, C. K., Hoffman, A., Chung, Y. C., & Sisco, L. (2011). Efficacy and social validity of peer support arrangements for adolescents with disabilities. Exceptional Children, 78(1), 107-125.

Dawson, M., Soulieres, I., & Mottron, L. (2007). The Level and Nature of Autistic Rotheram-Fuller, E., Kasari, C., Chamberlain, B. & Locke, J. (2010). Social involvement of children with autism spectrum disorders in elementary school classrooms. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 51 (11), 1227–1234.

Katz, J. & Porath, M. (2011). Teaching to Diversity: Creating Compassionate Learning Communities for Diverse Elementary School Students. International Journal of Special Education, v26 n2 p29-41 2011.

Koetler, D.K. & Koenig, K.P. (2012, February 6). Authentic partnerships with adults with autism: Shifting the focus to strengths. OT Practice, 6-9. Retrieved fromhttp://steinhardt.nyu.edu/scmsAdmin/media/users/al170/OTPracticeArticle.pdf

Locke, J., Ishijima, E.H., Kasari, C., & London, N. (2010). Loneliness, friendship quality and the social networks of adolescents with high-functioning autism in an inclusive school setting. Journal of Research in Special Education Needs. 10 (2), 74-8l.

Peetsma, T., Vergeer, M., Roeleveld, J., & Karsten, S. (2001). Inclusion in education: Comparing pupils’development in special and regular education. Educational Review, 53(2), 125-135.

Rotheram-Fuller, E., Kasari, C., Chamberlain, B. & Locke, J. (2010). Social involvement of children with autism spectrum disorders in elementary school classrooms. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 51 (11), 1227–1234.

Silberman, S. (2015). Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity. New York: Avery.

Zevallos, Z. (2011) “What is Otherness?,” The Other Sociologist, 14 Oct [web blog post]. Retrieved from https://othersociologist.com/otherness-resources/

APPENDIX

OBJECTIVE ELEMENTARY OBJECTIVE MIDDLE SCHOOL OBJECTIVE HIGH SCHOOL
need for self-esteem need to deflect marginalizing, repell bullying need to self-advocate
Support need to deflect marginalizing need to build on / reinforce self-esteem through need to reinforce social skills
Programming need to coach, deflect bullying curricular and extracurricular affinity-based* with focus on transtion to college
Begin social skills support programming and independent, interdependent living
(Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking)*** need social skills support to build in Based on neurodiversity paradigm,** students
need social skills to encourage positive identity focussed and specific ways; rotate small group may self-select to build relationships and
rotate small social skills groups of ASD + NT social skills groups of mixed NT  & ASD students community with others on spectrum; i.e.,
Maladaptive Unfiltered speech; refusal to work in groups; Unfiltered speech may include sexual content; may have they may have found their niche in High School
Behaviors bossy behavior or speech; meltdowns (frustration); restr. incr. discomfort in groups/refusal to work in groups; unfiltered speech; may still not grasp interactive speech
interests, obsessions, perseveration may annoy others bossy behavior or speech; meltdowns (frustration) behaviors and related social skills when excited/off topic
Redirect and Give identified students leadership roles; use Give identified students leadership roles; use Give identified students leadership roles; use
Channel their perfectionism/art talent in project completion perfectionism/creative talent in group projects; their perfectionism and creative talent in projects, esp.
for group work; coach with leadership skills and in offer supplemental independent projects, with option for independent projects for classroom sharing: will help
positive aspects of collaboration (group work) to share with class; continue coaching on collaboration with transtion to college and professional advancement
Curriculum to introduce Children’s Literature unit: elementary school Children’s Literature unit: middle school High School Literature
Neurodiversity supplement with multimedia, drama/improv

 

* Ron Suskind author of and father behind Life, Animated – notion that children on the spectrum can be reached via their affinity for certain kinds of stimulation or interest

** Silberman is author of NeuroTribes and as such the father of the neurodiversity movement

*** Michelle Garcia Winner is the founding light of Social Thinking, an extended program for social skills scaffolding and achievement

 

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