How could high school be better for students on the spectrum?

As you read in my last blog, high school was a very rough time for me. The same thing is true for many students that are on the autistic spectrum. I myself have Aspergers Syndrome, which is the best form of autism for a person on the spectrum to have. In the past, i’ve seen severely autistic individuals who can’t communicate at all. I am an intern for an autistic computer camp, and we have a severely autistic student that uses a special computer called a dynaVox to communicate. Don’t get me wrong, these devices are great to use, but I am happy that I don’t have autism as badly as this student does. I’m happy that i’m able to communicate with words and not through some electronic device.

So how could high school be better for students on the autistic spectrum? First off, I feel that public schools need to have a stricter policy about bullying other people because of their differences. At school one day, I was sitting next to two boys that were having a conversation, they were joking around, then one of them made a comment that really got me angry, he said something like “You must be retarded, you have autism.” I saw a teacher standing right next to our table, and this student said it loud enough for someone on the other side of the cafeteria to hear. In high school, if you do something completely harmless that won’t hurt anybody, you get put in lunch detention or in school suspension, but if you say something that really offends somebody, they get the one minute long “don’t do that again” speech. How is that going to do anything? I have been in situations in the past where teachers have given my tormentor that same damn lecture, and do you know what happened? They just kept on doing it even more. The second time I told on the person, they did the said that same old “if you ever do that again….” This person was more than a foot shorter than I was, and I already was one of the tallest people in the class, and i’m pretty sure that this person knew I could do him some serious damge if I tried hard enough. Then, I talked to the school a third time about it, then they finally decided to kick him out of school. I am glad that I was able to control my anger, which prevented me from doing something that could get me into serious trouble. If I hurt him, I could end up in out of school suspension or even gotten expelled.

I mentioned in my last paragraph that schools should have a zero tolerance policy towards bullying, and I talked about the student that called autistic people “retarded”. The most logical reason for why people on the spectrum, like me are made fun of is because they don’ t understand what autism really is. Autism is a genetic disorder that CANNOT BE CURED! I am appaled that people think that it’s a mental disease that can be cured. No matter how hard they try to search for a cure, it won’t happen! These people are just as ignorant as the folks from the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. You can’t cure a persons skin color, socioal and economic status, age, gender, national origin or sexual orientation so why would you want to cure autism? I also think that public schools across America should be required to educate students about autism. I think they should take time to educate them of the causes, symptoms, and how they diagnose people with autism. I remember when my school showed a 5 minute video about the disorder, nobody really payed attention to the video, they were either gossiping with friends, or making rude comments about people that have the disorder. There was a student that sat behind me and yelled out “nobody likes retards.” I went and told a teacher about it, and he just said “ignore him, and I didn’t hear him say it so I can’t do anything.” Studies have shown that autism is not a disease, and its not caused by vaccines.

Aside from bullying, and not fitting in, the educational curriculum in public high schools is not the right fit for students on the spectrum. I feel that public schools emphasize the core academicsand don’t teach information related to the students personal interests. If one student is into playing the piano, why can’t they tie in math with music? If another student is into airplanes why can’t the teacher have them do reports on books about airplanes? I mentioned in my last blog about my grouchy math teacher I had during my freshman year in high school. She would give us these worksheets with about thirty multi step problems, and she did a horrible job explaining how to do it. Every five minutes she would change the subject and complain about another reason she didn’t want to be at school with us. I feel that these grouchy, messed up teachers that are lazy to try anything new need to either be fired or retire. Kids are not going to be interested in listening to a teacher with a monotone voice lecture for a fourty minute class period, and they also won’t learn anything, so why the hell are they teaching in the first place? I can understand why so many kids slack off during high school, because they have these awful people “educating” them for their future. Going back to my math teacher from freshman year, she would always expect these large assignments to be completed the next day, and if they were not, she would throw a screaming fit at us. I don’t know one single person that enjoys doing math equations from a textbook, and there are many career fields out there that involve high level math. I am going to a vo tech high school to study opto electronics, which is the use of electronic devices that control light and radiation. Their course syllabus told me that algebra is required in this course. Even though there is a lot of math involved in this, which will take some time for me to understand, I am looking forward to attending this school because it is related to something that I am interested in. It makes school so much easier when you learning something you are passionate about.

I have about a million more ideas for ways to improve the public high school experience for kids on the spectrum, but i’m not going to mention them here. The two ideas I mentioned need absolutely no more explanation.


2 thoughts on “How could high school be better for students on the spectrum?

  1. your ideas are solid. Why not going in to your other ideas here? It’s your education reform blog! I’d like to hear them. Sheila

  2. Hi, I’d just like to say I find your blog very informative. I’m a 16 year old English girl in my last year of High School (I then go on to College/Sixth form which is equivalent to the Senior and Junior years in America). I’m currently going through the diagnosis process for ASD, however because of my language skills I have strong reasons to believe it’s Aspergers. Although throughout my time in High School I’ve had friends, I have been picked on and singled out in the past because of my ‘differences’, I’ve noticed that it’s gotten much worse as I’ve got older. So, I was wondering if you could offer me in any advice for making friends and talking to people as my 3 current friends will probably make new ones and I don’t want to be left behind. Thank you.

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