By GENEVIEVE SHAW BROWN, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — When a New York teacher wrote a Facebook post about why she designed her classroom for neurotypical students to resemble one that caters to special education, she was surprised by the reaction.
“I honestly thought I was saying something that everyone already knew,” Karen Blacher told Good Morning America.
Not so, she came to quickly find out. Her post was shared almost 2,000 times, and the comments were overwhelmingly in agreement and appreciative of the inclusivity.
She wrote in part, “All of my students are neurotypical, but my classroom looks very much like a special education classroom. I teach mindfulness and emotional literacy. I provide fidgets and sensory toys. I have a calm corner and use it to teach self-regulation.
“My students are thriving.
“And that made me realize something.
“When we treat autistic children the way the world tells us to treat neurotypical children, they suffer.
“But I have never encountered a single human being, of any age or neurotype, who doesn’t thrive when treated like an autistic person. (I mean, of course, treated the way an autistic person OUGHT to be treated. With open communication, adaptive expectations, and respect for self-advocacy and self-regulation).
“And that got me thinking that maybe [neurodiverse] people aren’t the only ones who’ve been misunderstood and mistreated all this time.
“They’re just the ones who feel it most, and the ones who finally got the message through to the rest of humanity that there’s a better way to be.”
Blacher said her students remain successful because they learn “without the anxiety that tends to be provoked by traditional behavior systems like clip charts and token economies[,] those don’t work well for anyone.”
The teacher has two children of her own who have autism and is familiar with neurodiversity.
“Once you learn how to advocate for for autistic people, those accommodations are good for everyone else, too,” she told GMA. “Some people need different thing than others.”
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