I’d like to take a minute to consider autism and our students in Westwind. If this is the first mention of autism, it most assuredly won’t be the last as we work toward an inclusive model throughout the Westwind division.
Toward the conclusion of the book, “Love Anthony” by Lisa Genova the author shares a comment uttered by countless others in conversations around autism, “If you’ve met one child with autism, you’ve met one child with autism.”
The thought is simple and concise, there is not one story, practice, treatment, cure, or accommodation that will work for all individuals, students or adult diagnosed with autism. Teachers, educational assistants, behavioral consultants, psychologists can provide a range of activities and accommodations to support the educational experience of a student diagnosed as autistic yet it seems critical that the exploration for what will work best for any one autistic student never cease.
In contemplating a fully inclusive system the same thought; that we should continue to explore better ways to reach all our students, holds true for all students. If we can find something that would be particularly helpful for an autistic student we have in mind chances are that there are elements of that adjustment or accommodation which will help others in the class we hadn’t previously recognized as needing assistance.
As the book draws to a close Genova writes, “The spectrum is long and wide, and we’re all on it. Once you believe this, it becomes easy to see how we are all connected.” We are well aware that our students with severe autism present a different set of challenges however together we can work toward better meeting their needs in an inclusive environment and in so doing improve the collective learning experience of all students.
In the end as we ponder an inclusive education system all our of our students and their parents would like us to think of each individual, how they belong and how their needs are best met. The strength of our division comes from the collective INDIVIDUAL experiences not the average experience of the collective.