Why Is It Crucial To Teach Autism and Neurodiversity Education In Elementary Schools?
*What happens when there is no autism / neurodiversity training for non-special education faculty and staff?
-Staff may not be prepared for certain scenarios they may encounter in the hallways, the playgrounds, their own classrooms, with neurodiverse students.
-Staff my inadvertently speak to neurodiverse students or their parents / families in hurtful or harmful ways.
-Staff may inadvertently treat neurodiverse students in a hurtful or offensive way.
-Staff may inadvertently treat neurodiverse students differently from their neurotypical peers, or may make them feel less than or alienated.
-Staff may not know how to accurately speak to neurotypical children about their neurodiverse peers.
-Staff may teach inaccurate or ableist information about autism and neurodiversity to their general education students.
-Staff may not be able to recognize neurodiversity within their general education classes and students.
*What happens when there is autism / neurodiversity training for non-special education faculty and staff?
-It opens the door for a true school culture shift to one of real inclusion.
-Special education students feel a greater sense of belonging.
-Teachers are able to model inclusion for their students.
*What does this training look like?
*What happens when there is no autism / neurodiversity inclusion education for general education students?
-General Ed students may be nervous, apprehensive, or uncomfortable around their neurodiverse peers because neurodiversity is an unknown for them.
-General Ed students may not know how to approach, talk to, or engage their neurodiverse peers.
-General Ed students may not know how to discuss their thoughts or feelings, or know how to ask questions about neurodiversity.
-General Ed students may have difficulty learning in an environment they feel uncomfortable in.
-Special Education students may feel isolated, lonely, embarrassed, confused, sad, anxious, self-conscious.
-Special Education students may ostracized from activities with peers or they may be made fun of or teased.
-Special Education students may not be able to learn as well if they are spending their time worried about what the other students might be thinking of them.
*What happens when there is autism / neurodiversity inclusion education for general education students?
-General Ed students become more informed citizens.
-Empathy, acceptance, and understanding increase.
-General Ed students become knowledgable and therefore more comfortable.
-Special Education students feel included and a sense of belonging.
-Special Education students are more confident, understood, and happy.
-Special Education students are able to learn more efficiently when they are not consumed or concerned about belonging.
*What does this education look like?
*What happens when there is no autism / neurodiversity information given to parents of children in general education?
-Parents may not know how to answer their children’s questions about neurodiversity.
-Parents may unintentionally use hurtful or harmful language when speaking about neurodiversity with their children.
-Parents may be unaware of the neurodiversity within their child’s classroom.
-Parents may be apprehensive about allowing their child to be placed in a mainstream classroom.
*What happens when there is autism / neurodiversity information given to parents of children in special education?
-Parents are given tools to speak to their children appropriately and respectfully about neurodiversity.
-Some parents may recognize some neurodiverse traits in their child and would then be able to provide their child with beneficial resources.
-Parents are comfortable and even eager to place their child in a mainstream classroom.
*What does this information look like?
-Information Sessions Through the PTA or SEPTA
-Informational Pages Sent Home In Backpacks
*Why should this information be provided in elementary school?
-The earlier the the kids learn about this, the easier they will internalize and normalize - their brains are sponges at this age. Inclusion will become second nature.