April is Autism Awareness Month, and one local school is teaching kids at a young age what that means and how to approach differences around them.
Every Thursday this month, you can find hundreds of students, staff and teachers at Springfield elementary, middle and high schools wearing some version of the same shirt – it reads “Autism Awareness Month.”
The shirts aren’t just to show support, they are just one piece of the puzzle in teaching students what autism is and how to be kinds to those with differences.
Every day, a fact about autism is read on the morning announcements and placed on a tree in the hall. Teachers are also reading books to kids with stories about children living with autism so they can relate to it if someone responds differently than they’re used to.
Laura McBride, director of special services, said with the growing number of children living with autism, it is important for them to get the word out at a young age to make school run smoothly and teach kids life skills they’ll need outside the classroom.
“It just makes for a better future for all of the kids as they go out into the real world one day to work with individuals in a workplace that might be a little different. Having that foundation early on will have a big impact,” McBride said.
Students have been very interested in learning about each other and teachers are loving it, too. Teaching the group as a whole instead of talking with each student individually as a situation arises is easier and more productive.
“They can always go back to that and remember we learned this about this child and that is why this is happening,” McBride said.