Subject: Science, SEL (Social-Emotional Learning)
Lesson Length: 30 - 45 mins
Brief Description: Autism is a developmental disorder which affects approximately 1 in 54 children in the United States. Symptoms often include difficulty communicating with other people, repetitive behaviors and sensory sensitivities. Bring awareness and understanding to your students about autism, and teach them how to respond appropriately to pertinent situations with patience and sensitivity.
Know Before You Start: Teachers should reach out to a parent or guardian of any child with autism present to fully understand and respect their personal levels of disclosure and comfort beforehand.
Hook: Begin by asking questions such as, "Who likes to swim? eat birthday cake? play video games?" Help students understand that students with autism are the same as other students in many ways. Explain that their brains develop differently and they may have different strengths and weaknesses than other people.
Activity: Have students create a three-panel comic about a student who chooses to help their fellow student with autism feel comfortable and confident in school rather than out-of-place.
- What do the students have in common?
- What are their unique strengths?
- What can they say or do to help them feel valued?
- Have students share their comics with the whole class or in small groups.
- Have each student share one thing they intend to do in the future to be a friend to someone with autism.