Raising Awareness for People with an ASD

I saw these links in my Twitter feed today and thought they were important enough to repost links here.

The first deals with suicide and isolation among people with Asperger's.

When I googled the terms "suicide" and "asperger's", I was surprised at how frequently the subject seemed to be treated with confusion – why would a person with Asperger's feel driven to suicide? To me, the answer to this is obvious. The need to bond with others is a basic human need. The very definition of Asperger's is to have trouble fulfilling that need. So why is it surprising that someone with these difficulties might fall into despair?

As educators, it is important that we take time to note when our students might appear a little or a lot out of sorts. It is not always easy to help our student through difficult times, but paying attention and being aware of changes in their routine or demeanor might mean the difference between life and death. 

The second article, 15 Workplace Behaviors that Exclude, also help us see that we do need to be sensitive to people who have an ASD. Certain behaviors that we might think are innocuous might create a hostile workplace environment. The bottom  line to this article, is that we should simply be courteous. Frankly, it really doesn't matter if the person has an ASD or not, most of the behaviors the author speaks of are just plain rude. 

The third article, What Does it Mean to Have Asperger's Syndrome?, is a brief introduction of sorts to Asperger's Syndrome:

In general, people with Asperger’s generally have trouble with social interaction, communication, as well as regulation of the motor skills and sensory systems.They also can develop obsessive and compulsive tendencies, which manifest themselves in various ways.

We can look around and see that perhaps we have been just a bit unfair or unkind to people who might be on the spectrum. So as educators we need to continually raise awareness of Asperger's and Autism in order that people will be a lot kinder and slower to judge. Knowing can lead to understanding and understanding can lead to more compassionate responses towards those who are on the spectrum. 

This is one of my main 'job's as a special educator. I mean this sincerely when I say I am sometimes left flabbergasted at the ignorance of the general education teachers. I think a large part of our work is to help keep the general education teachers informed (or at bay) when it comes to our students who are on the spectrum. This in and of itself is a monumental task–one would never imagine that people so educated could be among the worst offenders when it comes to students in special education. 

Hopefully you will find something interesting in these three short posts. Again, it is important that we, as educators, continue to raise awareness and advocate for our young friends (students) who happen to be on the autism spectrum or who happen to be differently-abled. I believe it starts with us–eradicating ignorance and snuffing out the flames of discrimination. Our goal is, as always, to help out students move about in the real world as fluently, frequently, and freely as possible.  

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