Path To Graduation: Teaching Students on the Autism Spectrum
Written and Produced By:
Jordan Phillippe, Grade 10, Oneonta High School
Students on the autism spectrum face challenges in school. They often learn differently than others.
Joseph Yelich is superintendent of the Oneonta City School District in Upstate New York. Mr. Yelich describes how he makes sure, as a superintendent, students on the autism spectrum in public schools get the education they need.
“We have a strong evaluation program and very well trained professionals inside of classrooms and out,” says Yelich. “The purpose there is to be sure that we understand student achievement and student behaviors. [We] look at those skills, be in contact with families, know our students really well, and then work to build appropriate programs to respond to the needs of [these] students. And that is a very wide spectrum of need.”
Thomas Brindly is the principal for Oneonta High School. Mr. Brindly explains how students with these needs are supported at the high school.
“We make it a point to make sure that we’ve conferred with everyone who has had some sort of educational impact or influence with this student,” says Brindly. “Where they came from, what works well for them, and how to continue those services as they come through our high school.”
This made me wonder: What is being done to support students on the autism spectrum reach graduation? What could schools do differently?
“Providing programming and learning more,” explains Yelich. “Studying more to begin to understand the spectrum and to truly get a feel for what students are going through in a school environment.”
Students on the autism spectrum face many challenges in public schools. Mr. Yelich shares what he views as the biggest challenge: “The ability to mix with a peer group in a broad social environment.”
My mother teaches students on the autism spectrum. I hope that, like her, all teachers work to understand their students’ individual needs.
This video was scripted, voiced, and edited by 10th grade student, Jordan Phillippee. In partnership with the Oneonta Family YMCA, students explore education topics of personal interest while learning production skills from WSKG’s youth media curriculum.
American Graduate is made possible by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.