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Smash! Crash! Shriek! Autism!

The school where I teach houses the district's ASD (autism spectrum disorder) program for teenagers.  This program is for teens with severe ASD, ones who can't function in a regular classroom.  To give you an idea of the severity here, one of the students recently smashed a teacher in the face and broke his nose.

Room restrictions don't allow the program to have an entire section of the school to itself, though, and the ASD classrooms butt up against mainstream classrooms, which leads to interesting encounters.

For example, today I was in a computer lab that shared a wall with one of the ASD classes.  While the students were working, we suddenly heard BOOM! And CRASH!  This was following by several short, loud screeches.  Then more crashing and thudding against the shared wall.  It shook.  More yelling.  And more yelling.  And yet more yelling.   This kept up for the rest of the class.

(The ASD program has procedures in place for dealing with this, incidentally.  My instincts as a teacher were to run over there and see if they needed help, but I stayed where I was, since I also knew there was nothing I could do.  I'm not trained in procedure for cases like this, and I know the student wouldn't react well to a stranger in any case.  The ASD teachers know what they're doing and had the situation in hand, and they document every situation minute by minute for both the school and the parents.  I know because I've seen them do it.  Wherever Schools is very careful about this kind of thing.)

The whole thing made me feel shaky on a personal level.  A few neurons to the left, and that could have been Aran.  I thought about the terrified student, who didn't understand (was unable to understand0 why the world was so painful or scary, and the parents of the student, who live in constant fear, stress, and worry about their child.  I know what they go through, but their pain is more powerful than mine.

What surprised me, however, was my students' response.  They kept on working, and ignored the noise as if it were perfectly normal.  At one point, a student murmured to another, "Those are the autistic kids.  They get loud sometimes."  And the other one said, "Oh."  And that was it.

Autism, even in its extreme form, is becoming more normalized and accepted.



( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Dec. 16th, 2016 06:00 pm (UTC)
And that gives me hope. That last sentence.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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