During our presentations at both the ASW and WASC JAM (Wisconsin Association for Student Council Junior and Middle School) Conferences, Denise and I emphasized how important it is to give middle school students relevant information about autism so they can be aware of why peers with ASD experience the world differently. But awareness is not enough, as we all know. Because if we don't make meaning of why we need to understand the differences, then acceptance won't come easily, and empathy may not be an outcome at all.
Ellie Trewyn, narrator of our award-winning film Choosing To Be a GFF (2011), along with Jacob Schamens, another of the film's stars and the older sibling of a brother in middle school with autism, were critical to creating meaning for the 5th through 9th grade students who attended our WASC JAM Super Sectional presentations yesterday. Throughout the presentation, these high school freshmen were able to tell their peers how their perceptions of autism and bullying had changed as a result of participating in Good Friend's development and production of the film, how important student leaders are, and what they've been able to accomplish in their own peer groups as far as acceptance goes.
|In the hotel atrium following their WASC JAM Conference presentations are (left to right) Chelsea Budde, Ellie Trewyn, Jacob Schamens, Denise Schamens, and Dani Rossa.|
We appreciate students who lead by example. We have one more week to accept nominations for our Good Friend in Education Award. Send Denise a short email about who you know who's demonstrating acceptance of autism.