Building Embracing Classrooms: An Unfulfilled Promise


Clustered desks, children’s talk in small groups while others develop artsy projects or rehearse musical performances, perfectly pictures a normal day in our border town classroom. The highly diverse population only enhances the fusion of ideas and the learning outcome everyday. Amongst that diversity, a student diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), develops social and communication skills while enjoys learning. The chance of an autistic student enrolled under full inclusion in a regular classroom is not uncommon anymore. At one point all of us, so-called mainstream education teachers, will face this same challenge and would forcefully come upon a way to “engage the full participation of (these) exceptional individuals into the regular curricularactivities” (IDEA, 1984). To provide all students with equal opportunities to learn, we need the courage to try a bold, refreshing approach to teaching.  Ideas such as learning through recreation, art, and music are justifiable channels to reach out our autistic students.

Many autism organizations are hesitant to suggest play, music, or art interventions due to the lack of scientific evidence to prove the potential benefits of such methods. In contrast, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicates that from 2008, the number of children diagnosed under the ASD umbrella grew almost 110%. These escalating figures require immediate solutions, and place the regular classroom in pursuit of effective teaching strategies that relieve the pulsing needs of autistic children. We are far from the times that allowed us to wait for science and formal research to solve the puzzle. Autism carries the promise of progress, is treatable, dynamic, and changeable (Herbert, 2008). Moreover, it demands help now, today, so a slight chance of success in the classroom should be enough motivation to promote these interventions.

As stated in the Texas Autism Resource Guide for Effective Teaching (TARGET), music intervention is a viable strategy because it encourages communication, behavior, and social skills, while accommodates the individual needs of the autistic student. Likewise, recreational strategies such as structured and team play favor social skills in  a collaborative rich environment, and art forms enhance the possibilities for our autistic visual learners. All these approaches are essentially constructive, and convey the strongly pursued answers for teachers that, just like in that border town classroom, know that inclusion goes beyond the classroom to a place where our autistic students won’t need to be different to be accepted and embraced.

Submitted by:

Lilia L. Martinez

This entry was posted in Autism Advocacy, Autism America, Autism Awareness, Autism Education, Autism News, Autism Resources and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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