World Autism Awareness Week
Running from March 29th to April 4th 2021, World Autism Awareness Week is an opportunity to celebrate as well as encourage awareness and education of those people who are on the spectrum.
There are approximately 700,000 autistic people in the UK, and it’s estimated that 1 in 100 children in the UK are diagnosed to be on the spectrum.
Classroom displays are a very good starting point for helping children in your class understand that everyone in the world is different from one another, and it is something that should be celebrated and encouraged.
It could be a very simple way to help those children who may feel separated from the others in their class, as it could help them to see how their differences aren’t what makes them different from their friends but instead what makes them unique.
The National Autistic Society, one of the leading Autism organisations in the UK since 1962, have been providing support, guidance and advice, as well as campaigning for improved rights, services and opportunities to help create a society that works for autistic people.
This World Autism Awareness Week they have a suite of free resources for all age groups to help your students learn about autism and better understand their classmates.
The resources have been developed for different key stages in line with the National Curriculum, and are a great way to teach about being kind, learning about how we’re the same, and how we’re different, and understanding autism better.
A very interesting and inspiring read can be found on the N.A.S website and it’s regarding Riverside School, Stirling and it gives an insight into their Autism Provision Gang. The project involves a group of children who lead the school on Autism Awareness and Acceptance. A link to the blog can be found right here.
A very good way to get everyone in the class involved in Autism Awareness Week is to run a fundraising campaign during the week to raise funds.
Some schools will have a non-school uniform day in order to raise money. An inventive idea I found was; each class runs its own bake sale throughout the week and the class that raises the most amount of money wins a prize.
It’s important that during these fundraising activities that everyone learns something new; so maybe it would be a good idea to spend a portion of time teaching pupils about how autism can affect people differently and maybe how what they’ve learnt could be integrated into their fundraising activity.
One of the most wonderful things about a book is its ability to reveal to us a little piece of ourselves. When we can relate to a story or a character, we are left with a better understanding of who we are and what our purpose may be.
This might be most true for children on the autism spectrum. Because things like relating to others, understanding emotions, and making and keeping friends are common challenges faced by children with autism, reading about autistic characters can often act as an outlet and a learning tool to discovering one’s own place in the world.
While some of these available are books are written specifically for children on the autism spectrum, others are aimed towards siblings and friends.
Zane the zebra feels different from the rest of his classmates. He worries that all they notice about him is his “autism stripe.” With the help of his Mama, Zane comes to appreciate all his stripes — the unique strengths that make him who he is!
All Cats Are On The Autism Spectrum takes a playful look at being on the spectrum, drawing inspiration from the feline world in a way that will strike a chord with all those who are familiar.
Delightful colour photographs of cats bring to life familiar characteristics such as sensory sensitivities, social issues, and communication difficulties.
Touching, humorous and insightful, this book evokes the difficulties and joys of raising a child who is different and leaves the reader with a sense of the dignity and individuality.
Different Like Me introduces children aged 8 to 12 years to famous, inspirational figures from the world of science, art, math, literature, philosophy and comedy.
Eight-year-old Quinn, a young boy with Asperger’s Syndrome, tells young readers about the achievements and characteristics of his autism heroes, from Albert Einstein, Dian Fossey and Wassily Kandinsky to Lewis Carroll, Benjamin Banneker and Julia Bowman Robinson, among others. All excel in different fields, but are united by the fact that they often found it difficult to fit in-just like Quinn.
Fully illustrated in colour and written in child-friendly language, this book will be a wonderful resource for children, particularly children with autism, their parents, teachers, carers and siblings.
Kya and Martha are like ‘two different colours sitting on a beautiful rainbow’. They are both on the autistic spectrum, but this certainly does not mean that they are the same.
In this sequel to Roberts’ first book about his daughter, we are introduced to her friend Martha, highlighting similarities, but also their many differences. We see them both enjoying school, but, while Martha tends to be chatty and outgoing, Kya takes time to process questions and likes to quietly repeat words. At lunchtime, they enthusiastically devour their spaghetti, but with Martha clearly struggling to know when she is full. And at bedtime, while they both like routines, Kya just wants to keep on moving while Martha knows when she needs to get to sleep. Autism is a spectrum, and no two experiences are identical.
Charmingly brought to life with exuberant illustrations by Hannah Rounding, this is a book which shares valuable autism-related experience, such as how certain activities may stimulate and why different textures can appeal. Above all, it is a beautiful book, rich in its universal sense of childhood fun and friendship, as we witness two children’s affection for each other, their classmates and their families.
Have a Great Day
We hope these ideas have given you some inspiration for how to participate during Autism Awareness Week.
If you have any great teaching ideas for this topic, feel free to comment below (they might even get added into the topic calendar!)