This unit helps students understand that Autism affects the brain and that each individual with Autism is unique, although usually people with Autism exhibit some observable characteristics.
- People with Autism have tremendous strengths that come from their unique perspective on the world.
- Individuals with Autism may have a range of difficulties (including being non-speaking) with social communication skills, or the ways we interact and exchange information.
- Many individuals with Autism, but not all, have sensory processing issues, or difficulty taking in and managing information from their five senses.
- Some individuals with Autism may exhibit repetitive behaviors, which help to cope with stress.
- Some individuals with Autism may have intense interest in a specific topic.
- People with Autism do lots of activities, sometimes with accommodations to help with their challenges in particular environments.
Information is presented about the range of strengths and challenges of people with Autism, and suggestions for how to be inclusive and an ally are covered. Students learn that although Autism may affect the way someone plays and interacts, they still want to be included and to have friends.
Program implementation is flexible and can be adapted for a remote, hybrid or in-person classroom. A typical 1 ½ to 2-hour session for fifth graders includes: an informational video, up to two hands-on activities and a talk by a speaker with Autism, who describes their life experiences and answers students’ questions. Recommended grade level: 5th grade.
Sample Questions from Fifth Graders
- Were you born with autism?
- Do you feel good about Autism, like unique?
- Do you notice things that other people don’t?
- What are some stereotypes about autism that are not true?
- Do people have their interests change?
- What’s your favorite game show?