We have all had those students who ranked somewhere on the autism spectrum, but did we do all we could to help them reach their potential? I have to admit I was ill-equipped and probably still am, but after reading an article in this week’s Parade magazine, Movie Magic by Nicola Bridges, my heart was warmed with promise.
The adage, “...there is a place for everyone…” has taken on a new meaning for me. There is quite a niche for those in society who are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a developmental disability characterized by repetitive behaviors and difficulty with social interactions. The entertainment industry is providing one such niche through visual effects. Exceptional Minds, a nonprofit vocational program for young adults with autism, is taking the characteristic repetitive behavior that has held many of these adults back and empowered them to see it as a talent. The students from Exceptional Minds are working with movie and entertainment companies, including Marvel, to create visual effects that are very tedious but essential to the final product.
The key to these folks' success is for employers to “Give clear tasks and outcomes and don’t give them long strings of verbal instruction.” This is a lesson all educators should remember in their classroom.
Also remember that of course It's easy to give up on something or someone, especially when the situation presents a challenge. But we must always remember the role we have chosen as educators. Yes, we are here to help our students learn, but we are also here to help them discover and grow their talents, making use of the best resources to help every one of them flourish. A couple of important take-aways for me are 1)Everyone is capable, and 2) economy of language works well for everyone.