Elementary Educator Toolkit
Autism Ontario has developed a series of classroom activities for elementary and secondary school students as an introduction to autism and neurodiversity. The goal of the activities is to promote awareness, inclusion, and acceptance of autism and neurodiversity, as well as creating awareness of each student’s unique strengths and needs.
Thomas and Friends
This video is an interview with the autistic child, Elliot, who does the voice-over for Bruno the Brake Car on Thomas and Friends. He talks about his experience with autism and compares himself to Bruno. The video also talks about how the production studio embraced Elliot’s strengths and needs in the recording process.
This Sesame Street clip introduces Julia to the cast of characters and begins to introduce what autism is and can look like. The cast of Sesame Street talks about their emerging friendship with Julia and how they communicate with her. They highlight some of Julia’s strengths, as well as things she may need help with. For more resources and information created by the Sesame Street team, check out their website.
This video shows the importance of using clear language when talking to a neurodivergent person or someone who may not understand. Everyone understands better if the language used is clear and direct. If you have someone in your class or school that you think may not understand, it might be the way things are said, not their ability to understand. Speak clearly and say exactly what you mean.
In this example, we made up a word: “VLOCKNAR.” It shows what it might look like if someone doesn’t understand what is being asked of them. If you are trying to communicate with someone, it often helps to speak clearly and maybe use a picture or a gesture. That’s why you’ll often see autistic people using sign language, gestures, or picture boards in addition to or instead of speaking.
Sometimes children and youth get so upset that they may have a “meltdown”. A meltdown, also known as a tantrum, can happen anywhere, at any time, and can seem to happen for “no reason at all”. We know that that isn’t the case. This video shows how seemingly “small” problems can add up over the day to create a lot of stress, and even a meltdown.
A detailed explanation of the activity, including a list of strengths and an accompanying YouTube video, can be found here.