I got an email from a parent recently and they were concerned because their higher functioning AU son has no understanding of his lower functioning classmates. Mom said he often lashes out at the other students, asks why they get to keep their IPads with them during class and will tell everyone that he, too, has autism and does not act that way.
I had to think about this for a bit and finally came up with the following lesson:
Part One you teach Emojis. Emoji emotions, emoji sentences, emoji for words.
Part Two, you challenge students to only ask you questions using emojis.
Part Three, for a whole 45 minute class period students can only communicate with the teacher/others by passing emoji cards and/or putting them together to form sentences.
Part Four, you come back as a class and ask the students how they felt when they were trying to speak and others misunderstood them. How did it feel to not be able to express your emotions? How did it feel when you couldn’t find the right emoji or make the right sentence for your words?
Then in Part Five, you bring it all home by reminding them that there are classmates on their campus that can only speak by using pictures and/or pointing to/touching pictures on their IPad.
Next, you remind them to extend compassion and remember how it feels when they see one of their counterparts having behavior or teachers handling behavior.
Finally, you remind them that they have voices and they know what Autism feels like and if they want to make a difference in the world they need to remember to speak for those who can’t.