AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Over 300 local and area educators gathered today to learn the latest tools for working with children who may fall under the spectrum of autism.
Autism Self-Advocate, Thomas Iland, wants students to know they are not alone in their journey.
Iland, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 13, said it's important for students to know this.
"Educators should make every effort to include young people with autism rather than think they can't interact with others," said Iland.
Iland added that students interacting with their peers and doing things that may scare them at first could really benefit them in the long run.
"Rather than just sweeping it under the rug or letting it be someone else's problem, because that's not going to help the situation," said Iland.
Through the conference, educators walked away with real-life experiences from someone who was once told he would never be anything or be able to learn because of his differences.
"These individuals have such a wealth of knowledge that we need to build upon," said Speech Therapist for Stratford ISD Kristal Johnson.
Tips for teaching students with Autism Spectrum Disorders provided by Iland:
- Always keep your language simple and concrete. Get your point across in as few words as possible.
- Teach specific social rules/skills, such as turn-taking and social distance.
- Give fewer choices. If a child is asked to pick a color, say red, only give him two to three choices to pick from. The more choices, the more confused an autistic child will become.
- Use various means of presentation – visual, physical guidance, peer modeling, etc.