Anonymous said to realsocialskills:
Do you perhaps know of any resources for autistic teachers who work in inclusive schools? We rely on scripts a lot so when a child has different needs regarding communication I for example simply freeze and can’t come up with anything.
I don’t know of any resources specifically for autistic teachers.
One thing I do know is that it’s important to respectfully acknowledge when you don’t understand something your student is telling you. It’s important to respect their communication enough to be honest about when you do and don’t understand.
Specifically, it can help a lot to say something like “I care what you’re saying, and I don’t understand yet.” or “I don’t understand what you’re saying, but I do care what you are saying.“
That affirms a few important things:
- You know that they are trying to communicate something to you
- You know that you aren’t understanding it
- You respect them enough to think that it matters what they are saying
- You care what they’re saying, and you want to keep listening
- You know that you are responsible for figuring out how to listen
- You’re trying, and you’re going to keep trying
This is important as a way to show respect. It’s also a way to tell people that there’s a point in communicating – that you’re not ignoring them and if they can figure out how to tell you what they mean in a way you can understand, you will listen.
A lot of people give up on communication because they’ve become convinced that no one will ever care about what they’re saying anyway. That’s a problem you’re probably in a position to mitigate, at least a little.
There are also a few things worth knowing about:
- If someone is saying things that seem funny/cute/insulting, it’s possible that they’re talking that way because they don’t have words for what they want to say. It’s important to err on the side of assuming they’re trying to say something serious.
- Take into account the possibility that you’re inaccurately perceiving them as angry
- Sometimes autistic people repeat things over and over in an attempt to communicate something. When that happens, there are scripts that sometimes make it possible to figure out what they mean.
tl;dr If you’re responsible for teaching someone, it’s important to be honest about when you do and don’t understand their communication.
Anyone else want to weigh in? Autistic teachers who teach kids with disabilities - what have the communication barriers been? What’s working in overcoming them?