A High School Teacher Speaks Out
B Y M I R I A M H U I Z E N G A
According to the Autism Society of America, Autism is the fastest growing developmental disability, with the current rate at one for every 150 births. Autism, no matter what the cause, is steadily increasing. However, in our current school systems, little is being done to help this growing group. As a high school teacher, I have seen these students pushed aside. They are placed in classes specifically for students with Special Needs, yet these classes rarely challenge our children. Due to the nature of these classes, students of a very diverse range of abilities are grouped together. And unlike students with other developmental disabilities, Autistic students often show remarkably high intelligence, yet their intelligence tends to manifest in nontraditional ways.
About Miriam Huizenga (click here)
In my experience with Autistic students, I have seen one student recall a story I told him months before with perfect clarity. I have seen others pick up on complex processes seemingly without effort. However, I have seen most of my Autistic students fail classes and become greatly discouraged. I have even heard them self-proclaim that they are “just stupid.” I am ashamed that we, as teachers, have failed so many young, intelligent kids by our inability to help them see their potential in academics.
Unfortunately, it is rare that teachers glimpse the intelligence of their Autistic students. However, I do not believe that this is necessarily the fault of the individual teachers. I believe that when we allow the students to teach us, we will be able to see the world through their eyes. Only then, when we allow them to heal our way of thinking, can we all grow in mind and in spirit.
Therefore, it is my goal to open a school specifically for our Autistic children. My goal is to have smaller classes—classes where the teachers seek to learn more about and from their students. The teachers will not provide a set of arbitrary hoops for the students to jump through. Instead, the teachers’ primary goal will be to unlock the knowledge and intelligence that already exists within the child.
Unfortunately, the outlook for our growing population of Autistic students is murky. However, I am confident that the waters will clear, and, with perseverance and patience, we can build a school where students can be themselves and thrive. By embracing the differences we are given by God (or whatever Unifying Force you may choose to believe in), we ourselves and our children will blossom into our best selves.
If you share my vision, please help me in reaching our common goal.
AUTISM AND THE NEW KIDS (click here)
THE STOLEN CHILD
Copyright, 2009, by Miriam Huizenga. All Rights Reserved.