Just when I thought I could not get any more impressed with Kaitlyn’s school, she brings something home that reminds me that I should not give up hope so easily. Time and time again I have written about things that they have done for us or for Kaitlyn that have well exceeded our expectations, like this entry from last year.
Today, I was completely blown away almost right from the second I opened her weekly folder. In it, there was a letter from one of the ESE teachers, one that has her autism endorsement. The letter informs parents that the class participated in “Peer Empathy Training” this past Wednesday that focused on having a classmate with autism. (There is a child with autism that “mainstreams” in Kaitlyn’s class. Even better is that he and Kaitlyn are friends outside of school.) The training, according to the letter, focused on differences and similarities that children with autism share with their classmates. The teacher also provided the class with a handout titled, I Have a Friend With Autism, that answered a few common questions that the class may have had, or that their parents may have.
To me, it says a lot about the school and the teachers that they would spend some time in class discussing having a classmate with autism. At that age, it is so easy for the kids to make fun of the “different” kid who rocks back and forth or talks endlessly about one particular topic. My sincere hope is that this will not be a one-time training, but that there will be continuing education.
Tonight, I had a brief talk with Kaitlyn about the training from Wednesday. I asked her what types of questions her classmates asked, and what answers were given. The most common question was “why does our classmate have autism?” Kaitlyn said that it was explained to the class that he was born with autism and that he enjoys many of the same things that they do. I know from being around this young man that he is an amazing boy with a lot of energy, and I am proud that Kaitlyn and he are friends.
Each day, I am more and more impressed….