Saturday, November 21, 2015

How I Failed as the Teacher of an Autistic Student

Every August, the week before classes begin is a parade of meetings for teachers. Meetings with administrators and colleagues fill the five or so days teachers have to get organized before students flood the school. This year, my roster included a student we’ll call H., one among 30 in my fall journalism class. H. would be more comfortable on the first day of school if he could meet me beforehand, his guidance counselor told me. He walked into our first meeting eager to introduce himself and his favorite topic: comic books. Students with autism typically have an area of hyper focus, and his was Marvel heros. I hoped to use that topic to build a bridge to our curriculum for H. He liked to read and write stories, a seemingly good fit for the elective journalism class I taught at our public high school in suburban Texas. With his buzz cut and backpack, he looked like any other high-school junior. But he wasn’t—isn’t—like any other student I’ve had before. H. is autistic, and during our two months together, and despite having taught several students with varying degrees of autism, I would fail him as a teacher.

 Read more here.