The month of April has the wonderful distinction of being Autism Awareness Month, and today, April 2nd, is World Autism Day. Autism is a neurological disorder that disrupts a person’s learning and socialization. While it affects over 1.5 million people in the U.S., it’s considered a ‘spectrum’ disorder because the characteristics vary from person to person.
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A few years ago I met Barb, a high school special education teacher. Barb had heard about Young Rembrandts and wondered how her special needs students would respond to our step-by-step method of teaching art. After some conversation about her students’ needs and our philosophy, we agreed to teach a series of four weekly classes. The classes surpassed all of our expectations. The students were fully engaged, successfully completed every drawing and were pleased to have been participants in art class. In Chapter Five of Being Visual, I share details about the initial fears of the teaching assistants, the experiences in the classrooms, our observations and our teaching method.