This quote came from one of my 10th grade students after we read a section in the book, The Reason I Jump, by Naoki Higashida, a 13 year old boy with autism. Naoki was discussing if he could get rid of his autism, would he? My student answered the same question with the previous comment. He explained himself by saying something to the effect that he would not want to get rid of his autism because he knows that autism has given him strengths or treasures and he is looking forward to finding out about as he gains control over his life and his challenges as he grows into an adult.
I'm amazed at the power that one's words can have on another. My class of seven students with high functioning autism (HFA) and two typical students who are in the class daily acting as peer-to-peer supports listen to me read a few pages before we start our social skills class activity. Depending on the topics discussed in the book, the discussions my students will have can be as short as one minute with very little emotion to lasting all hour and having students deeply engaged and producing unique and moving thoughts such as the beginning quote.
As a special education teacher and social coach in the private sector with years of experience working with children and adults with autism and their families, I could not illicit this type of discussion in the way Naoki Higashida, who has autism himself, can. Thank you to Naoki, John Elder Robison, Stephen Shore, Temple Grandin, and all the others that have shared their stories with all of us! My students are better understood and confident in who they are because of it.
Post Written By: Sabra Evans