Temple Grandin School goes beyond classroom learning
Back to school is right around the corner. That means students and parents are spending the last days of summer double checking school supply lists, shopping for clothes and hunting down the best backpack deals. Yet some parents may find themselves still shopping around for the right school – one that better meets their child’s needs.
Case in point – students on the autism spectrum – including Asperger’s Syndrome and other developmental learning profiles. Autistic students enrolled at Temple Grandin School may get more out of their education than they would at a regular public school, says Jen Wilger, Executive Director of the school. That’s because the staff and teachers at Temple Grandin School understand this student population so well – since they specialize in working with children on the autism spectrum.
“It’s our twelfth year and we’ve spent over 15,000 hours with these types of students. The pacing of our program and size of our school gives us the time and space to attend to the kids and embrace all kinds of learning.”
Wilger said her staff work at the school because they want to work with these kids and find these kids fascinating. It’s this kind of understanding and acceptance that sets the school apart from others, Wilger said. When students feel like they are understood and respected for who they are, it gives them a chance to fit in.
Wondering how they do it? The staff use a socio-academic approach that blends a social lens with an academic lens to foster comprehensive learning. This teaches students how to be part of a group and to understand things like visual cues and body language so they can interact with the people around them.
“The class includes a large scope of topics and it depends on the needs of the students in the population,” Wilger said.
While students learn in the classroom, they also learn in public spaces – like the park. This gives students a chance to practice social skills, like joining other groups of kids, Wilger said. Another example, waiting their turn for the slide can help develop skills like patience and tolerance – something that many of us work on throughout our lives.
“Our staff invest deeply into the lives of the students and not just the academics, but also real-world problems and getting out in the community,” Wilger said.
Signs of Autism Spectrum disorder
Hallmark signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) include challenges with problem solving and information processing. It can also affect sensory information, like hearing, touch, taste and smell, according to the Colorado Department of Education. ASD presents higher in boys, at 1 in 42, compared to girls, at 1 and 189.
By Elise Oberliesen for Raised in the Rockies