I work in an autism classroom with children grades 3-5. Most of our students are in our room for the whole day, but we are always working toward them being able to go into general education classes for some periods of time during the day. One of our students has higher functioning autism than the others. This student is able spend a lot of his day in a 3rd grade general education class. He always has me, or another teaching assistant with him to prompt him or help him with things as needed. He also goes to specials with other 3rd graders, such as art, gym, music, etc. Unfortunately while going to these classes with him, I have noticed that his fellow students are not overly friendly to him. He does exhibit stimming behaviors, such as repeating names or phrases, and that bothers some of the students. When told to partner up in gym a few weeks ago, no one wanted to be his partner. I heard another student call him “weird” when he was standing alone without a partner and was so frustrated until another female student came up to him and asked to be his partner. After that, students were interacting with him more and more. Just last week, he was invited (and went!) to a fellow students halloween party at their house. He was so happy and that girl has no idea the impact she had on his day, and possibly even the rest of his school year.
Students follow example from each other their attitudes es and behaviors are mirrored constantly. Many other students do not have patience with the boy I am mentioning, but watching how helpful and patient the girl was to him gave me so much hope that others will see this interaction and want to be more friendly with him.