Episode #8: Oliver & Ethan (Autism Awareness Month)

Episode #8: Oliver & Ethan (Autism Awareness Month)


About this episode

(0:01) Why it’s important for educators to honor Autism Awareness Month

As host Robert Bailey introduces the episode, he explains that according to the Lurie Center for Autism, one in thirty-six students has autism. This means that educators most likely have at least one autistic student in their class right now. Many general educators don’t receive training to support learners with autism, leaving these children at a disadvantage in the general education classroom. This episode will dispel some of the misconceptions about autism and what Oliver and Ethan, as unique individuals, need from the education system.

(2:37) Robert welcomes Oliver, a high school student with autism

Oliver is a gifted and talented student, and he likes to sing a lot. He sings in two choirs, and he also longboards on the weekends.

(3:52) What it’s like to be a student with autism

For Oliver, it’s a little bit harder but sometimes a little bit easier to be a student with autism. He understands geometry and English really well. He also does well with the arts, including singing, theater and band. Additionally, he’s in AP World History and does well in that class. Chemistry, though, is hard for him to keep up with.

(4:37) Why chemistry is a challenging subject

For Oliver, the challenge is that if a learner gets behind in chemistry, they’re way behind. He also has trouble with the tests because he’s gotten so behind. In his opinion, it’s difficult to catch up week to week, especially with taking notes.

(5:37) What the best teachers do that make a difference

Oliver feels that most of his teachers are very helpful. For him, though, working with his permanent teachers is better than having substitute teachers. It’s because covering teachers don’t know him, so they don’t understand his learning needs.

(7:14) What teachers should know about students with autism

Oliver says that teachers could be more understanding toward students with autism, but he wants to emphasize that his teachers have all been helpful.

(7:55) What it’s like interacting with other students

Oliver says that other students hardly notice that he has autism. He’s able to interact with students very well. He’s not socially awkward like stereotypes about autism would have people believe.

(8:21) What people should know about autism

Oliver wishes others knew that not all autistic people are socially awkward introverts. In fact, he’s not that at all. He also doesn’t need that much help, and he’s self-functioning, or independent.

(9:41) What teachers in the earlier years did to make a difference

Oliver said that when he was younger, he was a lot less scheduled and not as controllable. He said that there were places in the classroom where students could go if they were upset. These places made him feel safe.

(10:34) Why consistency and a schedule are important for Oliver

Oliver’s teacher just left for maternity leave, and there are security changes at school that take longer. Both of these situations are challenging for him, and he’s trying not to be tardy because of the security changes.

(12:26) Why Oliver enjoys certain subjects

Oliver is more of a biology person than a chemistry person. He has more of an interest in biology and how it connects to life. He also likes theater and singing because he’s been doing it since he was eight years old. He’s naturally good at them, and it makes him feel accomplished. His favorite roles have been Simba, as well as Charlie from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

(15:06) Advice for educators

Oliver suggests that teachers should focus on what their students are good at doing. What they want to do later in life is most important.

(18:50) Robert welcomes Ethan, a third-grade student with autism

Ethan says his favorite subject in school is math, and he also likes art class.

19:13 Why Ethan is a big fan of Minecraft

Ethan enjoys Minecraft because he can build anything he wants with it. His favorite thing that he’s built in Minecraft is his house, and what makes it special is a secret escape area.

19:53 What it’s like to be a student with autism

Ethan says the lunchroom is really loud, and he doesn’t like the noise, so he got headphones to block out some of it. He also uses a “Crazy Eight” strategy during lunchtime. He traces the number eight on a piece of paper, which helps him feel calm. Also, he gets frustrated when something is confusing and he can’t fix it.

21:31 A favorite teacher

Ethan’s favorite teacher instructs him in math and helps him get ahead in class.