If there is one word I could use to describe my students, it would be resilient. Despite having the odds stacked against them, my students show up every day with a willingness to learn. They are brave, insightful, and eager. The majority of students in my classroom have autism, which impacts their ability to communication and process sensory information. We often tell our students that they have autism, but autism sure doesn't have them. We know they can thrive with the correct school supports!
In addition to their unique learning needs, most of my students live at or below the poverty line and speak a language other than English at home.
They attend a neighborhood public school in an urban area. Unsurprisingly, funding is limited for special education programs. These circumstances set up a variety of barriers to my students' education. They have less access to high-quality curriculum, extracurricular activities, and basic classroom supplies. It's my goal as an educator to break down these barriers for my students.
My students deserve a high-quality education, but unfortunately our school and district lack the funding to make that happen. This is where you come in!
Imagine trying to complete an assignment with the glare of fluorescent lights above you. Or, envision yourself trying to read a book with harsh sunlight coming in from the window. What would it feel like if you couldn't sit still because there was so much energy flooding through your body? Even more, visualize yourself working collaboratively with your friends when the smell of hot dogs overtakes your space. These instances are just a fraction of what my students with autism experience each day at school.
While you and I may be able to ignore the fluorescent lights of our workspace, my students experience sensory stimuli - such as what they see, hear, and smell - at a heightened level.
Certain aspects of the school experience are not designed with sensory sensitivities in mind. Things such as the bright lights, sunlight coming through the windows, and smells from the lunchroom can not only distract, but sometimes derail my students' learning. In addition, hyperactivity and overstimulation can make it challenging for my students to attend to their work. These seemingly small changes to their environment can have a big impact on their ability to learn.
This is why are are asking for materials to reduce sensory sensitivities. We will use the additional fluorescent light covers to minimize harsh lights in our room. The vibrating pillows will be used to calm my students who have energy pulsing through their bodies while we try to read stories or complete group work. The sensory toys will be used to provide additional tactile input during the school day.
With your help, my students with autism won't be held down by their sensory sensitivities. Instead, my students will once again thrive in an environment that considers their needs and sets them up for success!
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