Mayfield students speak out about autism

Mayfield students speak out about autism

Organization for Autism Research

A teacher helps autistic students in the classroom.

By Allison Ng

Every day, students at Mayfield are taught to appreciate differences, be it through learning about the history of human interactions in social studies classes or bouncing ideas off one another in English or science.

With this focus on physical, ethnical, and cognitive differences, it may be easy to overlook a difference that, for some students, may be present right in the classroom itself—specifically, a social difference, in the form of autism.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) becomes apparent in early childhood; its influence often falls most heavily on a person’s ability for social interactions and communication. Approximately 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with ASD.

A portion of the Mayfield population is diagnosed with ASD. The school’s Special Education department works with these students so they can obtain the education that all students are entitled to.

Kristine Kornblut is one of the Special Education teachers. “[ASD students] can be in general education classes or in self-contained classrooms. [Special education teachers] are present in general education classes to provide assistance for them,” she said.

Perhaps one of the biggest obstacles facing ASD students is the difference in how they process information, compared to that of a person without autism. Multiple MHS students have recognized the complications of this.

“I think more visually in pictures… it takes me longer to process things than a regular person,” one 18-year old male ASD student said.

Another student, a 17-year old ASD female, recommends that teachers “spend more time with students with autism and make sure they get it.”

Autism also is characterized by a high level of sensitivity. One 15-year old ASD student said, “Changes make me behave differently.”

Sometimes, subtle differences in an environment could be enough to trigger some reaction in people with autism. A change in texture of an object, the sound of music playing when it usually isn’t there—all of these could cause problems for autistic students. However, their abilities are not to be underestimated.

“[Autistic students] are very capable, we just have to learn the best way to communicate with and educate them because each student is very different,” Kornblut said.

When asked what the best thing anyone could do or say for him was, the aforementioned 18-year old male student said, “You are a really hard worker and a good person, and I don’t care that you’re autistic.”