The approach of educational inclusion for children with autism has a wide range appeal to educators and parents. It gives children with special needs the opportunity to learn in natural, stimulating environments. Inclusion makes it possible for friendships to occur with non-disabled peers, provides positive role models, and may lead to greater acceptance in the community. The benefits are not solely for the child with autism. Children without disabilities will, in most cases, learn about differences between people and become more accepting to those who are different from themselves, it also gives the non-disabled learner an opportunity to assist others and learn compassion for their peers. Teachers may benefit as well by achieving a broader appreciation of differences and by learning new techniques for instruction, which in turn, has the underlying capacity of benefitting all learners in the classroom.
The following was written by a student in MNPS when asked to describe her learning in the classroom and autism and published with the permission of her parent:
How Autism Affects My LearningbyO. B., 6th Grade
Autism affects my learning because I don’t like loud noises and distractions. Loud noises like, a chair moving across the floor, books dropping on the floor, or a lot of people talking at the same time, makes it very hard for me to concentrate. Things that other people don’t notice like, a knee bouncing or waving a pen are very distracting to me. When I get distracted with things going on around me, I get upset and have a hard time concentrating on my work. I get overwhelmed when I get behind in my work and don’t know what I am supposed to be working on, or when I am working on something that is different than what my classmates are working on. I need help from adults to calm down and re-focus on my class work.