Autism affects one in every 59 children in the US. Every educator will teach an autistic student. The problem is that our teacher training didn’t prepare us for working with kids who have autism spectrum disorders.
I know. Nor did it prepare me for having a son on the spectrum myself.
Over the last decades, I’ve been a classroom teacher, special education teacher, counselor, school psychologist, district consultant, and autism consultant. I teach university classes on inclusion strategies for soon-to-be-teachers and Master’s courses in inclusion for administrators. I’ve spoken to thousands of participants at conferences and workshops about strategies to include autistic students and to help these kids thrive in our rooms.
There’s one refrain I heard over and over again from both teachers and parents. While they want to learn more about autism, they don’t have time to wade through heavy textbooks or scour the internet for credible information or become more discouraged. There’s enough negativity in the world. These are our kids we’re talking about. We want ways that they can be understood, included, and helped to succeed.
From that, my first novel was born, Autism Goes to School. While it provides insight into autism, it’s an easy-to-read story about a single dad wanting the best for his autistic son and a teacher who makes an impact in both of their lives. It shows strategies being used in the classroom and at home. Do all the strategies work? Nope. Some get dropped; some get refined; new ones are tried. And life gets easier.
Readers were kind and the book won awards and became an Amazon bestseller. To give back, I now give the e-book version away free on Amazon and most other online e-book vendors.
Readers suggested what they would like to see in future books, and four more novels were added to the series and two nonfiction books – one focused on parents and one for teachers.
Several times a week, I hear from parents and teachers who have read one of my books; their feedback and appreciation are so gratifying. I’m especially thrilled when autistic adults write to thank me for writing these books.
Here’s what one autistic woman had to say about Autism Questions Parents Ask:
I am autistic though, and that is what peaked my interest for this book. Autism itself is, to me, a special interest of sorts, especially since there is so much information out there for parents that does not always seem to have the best interest of the autistic person at heart.
That is why I am so happy with this book! Right from the start – where it states that everything should be done to not harm the child…. It has tons of useful links and places where parents can find good information, and/or ask the input from actually autistic people on certain issues. With that, it pulls out all advantages of the format as well.
Thank you, Dr. Mitchell, for writing this book. It is much needed.
Here are synopses of my other books written about autism.
A single dad. A child with autism. Can he break down parent-teacher barriers to help his son?
Ethan is only in grade one and already has been kicked out of one school due to his tantrums and running away when in a panic. Now in a new school, his mom remains glued to her phone, waiting for the call to tell her to come pick him up, that they don’t know what to do with an autistic child.
Manny is not like other children. He doesn’t talk. He doesn’t leave the house. His parents desperately try to arrange their world so that Manny does not get upset. Because, when he does, well, the aggression was getting worse. Too many times Tomas had to leave work to rescue his wife from the havoc of their son’s meltdowns. At ten, Manny was becoming difficult to handle.
Karen is bright, vivacious and highly verbal. She finds certain topics fascinating, and goes on and on and on. She remains on the fringe, looking at other adolescents having fun together and wondering if she could ever be a part of the group. Karen has Asperger’s Syndrome.
For Suzie, life stopped after high school. At twenty-one, she has withdrawn from a world she finds alien and confusing. She has Asperger’s Syndrome and high anxiety. While her mom wishes for more for her daughter, Suzie feels that her time is amply filled with the compelling world lurking within her computer.
Your child has an autism diagnosis. Now what? When your child receives an autism diagnosis, the research begins. Here’s a place to start.
There’s a student with autism in your classroom. This book is for you. It will calm those panicky feelings. You can do this.
One in every 59 children has an autism diagnosis. Once thought rare, now every teacher will have an autistic child in their classroom. Maybe not last year, but this coming year….
Our rooms are full of diverse learners. Sadly, most university programs don’t prepare teachers for this reality. With all those bright little faces gazing at you, the needs can seem overwhelming. How can you be everything to each one?
Dr. Sharon A. Mitchell has worked in schools as a teacher, counselor, psychologist, and consultant for decades. Her Master’s and Doctorate degrees focused on autism. She has delivered workshops and seminars to thousands of participants including at national conferences, written five novels about autistic kids and two nonfiction autism books. She continues to write and teaches university classes about students who learn differently.
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