You’re 22 years old, fresh out of school. It’s your first day as a teacher, and you learn that one of your students is a 6 year old autistic boy. You are given a stack of reports and files that tell you, in detail, how “bad” this little boy is and how hard it is going to be to teach him. You want to sneak out the back and run away. And right then the school administrator – grinning, animated, excited – finds you and says: “You’re going to be Jacob’s teacher. That’s fantastic. You’re going to LOVE this kid!”
That is the story of Paula Kluth‘s first day, as she recounts it in the preface to her book You’re Going to Love This Kid!.
This is an incredible book. If you are the parent or teacher of a school age autistic child, you should buy, read, absorb this book. If you know someone in those categories, you should buy and read this book, and then give it to that person.
The first chapter alone, a description and discussion of autism unlike any I have seen in books about autism and teaching autistic children, is worth the price of the book. I’m not an educator myself, but found much that I could use as a parent to help my school system create a more inclusive program.
What struck me the most about the book is that although it focuses on inclusion of autistic children in schools, it is really advocating for the inclusion of ALL students. Something I hadn’t considered before reading the book, and I would guess that most others haven’t really considered either.
A while back on my blog I asked the question, “Why doesn’t every child have an IEP?” Some might say that is just not possible, or necessary. This book explains how to have a program in which every child can have an individual educational experience and, more importantly, why it should be this way.
Not just for our autistic kids. Not just for our “normal” kids. For all kids.
4 thoughts on “You’re going to love this kid (and this book)”
If you ever get the chance to attend one of Paula Kluth’s workshops, go! She’s a positive force in every way.
I would love to attend one of her workshops, and have the chance to meet her. I also read “Just Give Him the Whale” last year, and will be posting some thoughts on it in the near future.
Those two books were a great help to me better understand my own thoughts on autism and education.
I hope to one day be a special education teacher so I will read this book. I plan to not make the same mistakes that were made on me and most in my generation of autistic people or disabled people in general where inclusion is the best option.
Still, I have to be objective and realize that inclusion may NOT the best option for every disabled person, especially the most profoundly disabled. I have read convincing accounts by parents as to why their profoundly disabled child would not benefit from inclusion and since they know their child better than I do I have to trust them to make the best decision.
As you will see if (when!) you read this book, a lot of it depends on how you define “inclusion”. If all you mean is that an autistic student is placed into a general ed class room and given the “necessary supports” to fit into and succeed in a “normal” classroom, then you are absolutely right that this is not the best option for every disabled student.
(I would argue that this is not the best option for any student, but that is a whole other discussion.)
If, on the other hand, inclusion means designing the classroom and educational experience around the individual needs of all students, so that all students have the ability to learn and achieve at their own level, then I think you will see that inclusion is the way to go for all students.
I’d love to hear your thoughts after you read the book.
Good luck in your goal of being a teacher. It is important work and students of all kinds can benefit greatly from your ideas and experiences.
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