Autism Is: Helping Students and Teachers Connect to Students on the Autism Spectrum

Do you remember the movie Bass Clef Bliss? About Terrance Patridge, an autistic teen who blossomed on the trombone? 
 
It was produced locally by Patrick Scott and his company Drama House Productions and has been used as a vehicle for discussion nationwide.
 
It’s now the centerpiece of an educational program, Autism Is, that helps all students and teachers to be comfortable and connect with autistic students. 
 
There was a study on it at UCSD that showed a lot of really helpful outcomes for the kids and teachers who participated in the program*. 
 
And it’s been approved by the California Department of Education as the only current social content program to address anti-bullying. 
 
We plan to present about it to community groups since we think that families might benefit from this at their schools. 
 
Here is the website for the program: http://autismis.com/. 
 
 
 
*Key findings
From the Social Network Analyses we learned that:
  • Students reported the largest gains in friendship and recess ties from Time 1 to Time 2. 
  • Students reported having better quality friendships from Time 2 to Time 3.
    From the Student Focus Group Interviews we learned that: 
  • Students had comprehensive definitions of friendship, the evolution of friendship ties, and how
    to be a good friend. 
  • Students had strong emotional connections to the film Bass Clef Bliss: Terrence’s Path; they
    identified key scenes that supported their understandings of concepts such as fear, overcoming
    challenges, and making new friends. 
  • Students made astute and mature reflections about how these lessons and a socio-emotional
    curriculum in general, is necessary for students to thrive in school. From the Workshop/Teacher Surveys we learned that: 
  • Teacher participants reported more confidence and competence in their understandings of concepts such as inclusive practices and social emotional development. 
  • Teachers described feeling much more willing to start difficult conversations with students to support their mental health. 
  • Teachers were positively affected by the study design including the workshops, the social network analyses, and the focus on inclusive practices. 
 
 
Author
Joshua Feder, M.D. Dr. Feder's Blog

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