Katie's Story: Why being a teacher with autism helps me teach students with autism

Why being a teacher with autism helps me teach students with autism

In order to teach a student with autism, you need to allow them to teach you first. Learn everything you can about the world they live in before you ask them to change it or adapt it in order to live in yours.

People often believe that individuals with autism are unable to feel empathy but as a teacher with autism, I can say I feel it in abundance. I believe it is this quality that allows me to teach my students effectively. I feel so empathically in tune with the world around me that I can almost sense the feelings of another person. I know when my students need a break, I sense when they are feeling anxious and I get it right when it is time to push them further. Therefore, having autism allows me to be proactive in the classroom and put strategies in place so that learning is an opportunity never to be missed.

I appreciate the challenges my students might face as more often than not, I have experienced them myself. If a room becomes crowded, I ask staff to take a seat to limit movement as I find it overwhelming and my classroom is always tidy and clutter free because I need it that way. Like a lot of my students, I rely on structure to get me through the day so you can guarantee that my sessions have a clear beginning middle and end.

I feel it is easier for me to enter the world of a student. I have spent my life figuring out how to communicate in social situations to the point where I am able to adapt my interaction based on how I sense it is needed. This is an advantage when teaching a class of students with autism; I can enter each of their individual worlds without even thinking about it.