“What’s up with Nick?” booklet
OAR’s Kit for Kids guide is designed to teach elementary and middle school students about their peers with autism. The kit is centered around an illustrated booklet entitled “What’s Up with Nick?” This colorful, kid-friendly booklet focuses on a boy with autism named Nick. It teaches children that students with autism may think differently or need some accommodations, but all students are of equal worth and should be treated as such.
The goal of this program is to increase awareness of autism in elementary and middle school students (grades 3-8). With greater knowledge of autism, young people will be more likely to attribute the idiosyncrasies of autism to a classmate’s disability rather than a choice. By increasing students’ acceptance of differences, the Kit for Kids will create a more inclusive classroom and overall sense of community.
Despite the growing number of children with autism educated in mainstream classrooms, many students are not familiar with autism. A University of Georgia study (Campbell & Barger, 2010) found that only 46% of middle school students surveyed had heard of autism. Despite some recognition of the disability, they had little knowledge of its characteristics, such as communication and social skill challenges. If students are uninformed about a disability, they often attribute undesirable social behaviors to individual choice. For example, a classmate may interpret avoidance of eye contact as rude instead of as a behavioral characteristic of autism.
Negative behaviors stem from this lack of understanding. A 2012 study by the Kennedy Krieger Institute found that 63% of children with autism surveyed had been bullied, compared to only 12% of these same children’s typically-developing siblings. The combination of more autism diagnoses, more children with autism accessing general education, and an explosion of bullying is creating a perfect storm in America’s classrooms. OAR’s Kit for Kids guide serves as a solution to these problems; educating children about autism will foster a greater understanding of the disability and its characteristics, as expressed in school settings. This improved knowledge will lead to a more compassionate and inclusive classroom environment.
| OAR would like to give a special thank you to Anthony Murawski for converting the files
Student-led lesson plan, with instructions
“Kids with autism might…” classroom poster
Helpful information for teachers and parents
Kit for Kids feedback form
For more information or to order a print copy (limited quantity) of the Kit for Kids, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (703)243-9717.