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Writer/Curator/Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project. Contributing Author to Between Interruptions: Thirty Women Tell the Truth About Motherhood, and Concepts of Normality by Wendy Lawson, and soon to be published Gravity Pulls You In. Writing my own book. Lecturer on autism and the media and parenting. Current graduate student Critical Disability Studies and most importantly, mother of Adam -- a new and emerging writer.

“There is no hope unmingled with fear, and no fear unmingled with hope.” -- Baruch Spinoza

Friday, May 18, 2007

 

Autistic Teachers, Scientists, Consultants Every Day

As many of you know, Amanda Baggs has been working with MIT on their assitive devices for autism. Michelle Dawson is a researcher at the University of Montreal. Dr. Morton Ann Gernsbacher so eloquently wrote about the meaning of participation in this article, The True Meaning of Research Participation. But autistic and Aspergers teachers? Policy makers? Board members and leaders? Introducing, Carole Ann MacDonald who is a teacher with Aspergers Syndrome in Brampton. The National Post:

It is the middle of a lesson in the classroom at Greenbriar Public School in Brampton, and the boys, aged 12 to 14, take turns jumping on the trampoline in between listening to their teacher.

"It releases tension," teacher Carole Ann MacDonald says matter-of-factly, as she surveys a classroom that also includes terrariums, a beanbag chair, a sectional couch and, most importantly, three teaching assistants and a teacher for just nine students.

Ms. MacDonald knows, perhaps more than most, the need for an autistic child to have a release from the structure of a school day.


When she was a bit younger than these students, she was labelled "retarded" and severely disabled, and required a team of private tutors to get her through school. It was not until her final year of teacher's college, three years ago, that she was diagnosed with Asperger's, a form of autism.

I am excited about reading as Adam is still young and his prospects of being taught by people who might really understand him are becoming a reality. I was a little disturbed by this next judgmental paragraph, as I certainly wouldn't mind hand-flapping or "autistic behaviours" from any of his teachers, so long as they knew how to teach:

Ms. MacDonald is considered by autism experts such as Dr. Kevin Stoddart to be among the highest functioning cases of Asperger's. She does not shake hands obsessively or have any noticeable physical tics. Her unusualness manifests itself in a way that is difficult to pinpoint.

In the classroom, where other teachers might give harsh words when students misbehave -- the boys on this particular day were eating, pacing the room and talking out of turn --Ms. MacDonald laughs.


The Autism Acceptance Project support group, lead by four autistic adults (so far -- more are welcome!), has adults with autism, Aspergers and are all so very unique as individuals as are their experiences.

The possibilities abound.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Judi said...

Awesome. It doesn't surprise me about Greenbriar though. I went there from 82-84 for 7th and 8th grade. They have always had innovative classes. My brother and my nephew were both in their "gifted" program many moons ago.

I am very glad to hear that the school board that Andrew will be part of has this type of classroom. Hopefully, as he's only 3 now, there will be many more like it when he is 12!

The possibilities do abound, don't they?

7:30 AM  
Blogger Natalia said...

i am, as far as i know, an aspie teacher (at a college) and i try i practice inclusive education to some extent... but i know i could do better. i try to read "andrea's buzzing about" blog and get ideas...

is it possible to email you on another topic, and how can i? thank you...

4:48 PM  
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10:41 AM  

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