Teaching is never easy, but it can also be greatly rewarding. We are all familiar with touching the future and Chicken Soup for the Soul stories, but what is behind them is the daily battle teachers face in doing whatever is humanly possible to guide our charges into a society that has high expectations. Thus when students with Autism show up it offers up it offers us more of a challenge and also the possibility of creating a more rewarding life for a youngster. With that in mind I have compiled some valuable links and related information.
First, autism is a brain disorder that impairs the ability to communicate, socialize, and maintain what are considered normal relationships with others. Those with autism may have a varied level of skills and capacities and behaviors. Even the cause of Autism is not understood at this time although medications are prescribed to relieve symptoms. As such the teacher needs to treat every autistic diagnosed student as a distinct individual and take time to read the reports and be aware of any medications and possible side effects.
The major problem when teaching several students with autism, besides the uneven development in learning, are the issues of classroom management, behavior, differentiated instruction, and even how to best use teaching aides. Finally, the teacher needs to be attuned to the type of medication the student may be using. A carefully developed Individualized Learning Plan is essential and meeting with the parents necessary for progress to be made consistently.
Unfortunately, due to its nature, autism success stories are not easily duplicated. Because one method works in a certain instance does not make it transferable. The best idea I can recommend for teachers is to read widely from the resources below and glean those ideas that might be of significant value to students within that teacher’s realm of influence.
Alan Haskvitz teaches at Suzanne Middle School in Walnut, Calif., and makes staff development presentations nationwide. In addition, he serves as an audio-visual evaluator and design consultant for his county department of education; a tutor to multi-cultural students in English and art; and an Internet consultant.
Haskvitz's career spans more than 20 years. He has taught every grade level and core subject, has been recognized repeatedly for innovative teaching and has received the following honors, among many:
USA Today All Star Teacher
100 Most Influential Educators
Reader's Digest Hero in Education
Learning Magazine's Professional Best
National Middle Level Teacher of the Year
National Exemplary Teacher
Christa McAuliffe National Award
Robert Cherry International Award for Great Teachers
In addition, Haskvitz publishes articles on successful educational practices and speaks at conferences. He has served on seven national committees and boards.
Haskvitz maintains credentials and training in special and gifted education, history, administration, bilingual education, journalism, English, social studies, art, business, computers, museumology and Asian studies. He holds these credentials for Canada, New York and California. His experience also includes staff development, gifted curriculum design, administration, community relations and motivation. His background includes 10 years of university education.
As a teacher, Haskvitz's curriculum increased CAP/CLAS test scores from the 22nd percentile to the 94th percentile, the largest gain in California history. In addition, Haskvitz and his students work continuously to improve their school and community. His students' work is often selected for awards in competitions in several subject areas. For more details about Alan and his students' work, visit his page on the Educational Cyber Playground.