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My name is Sara Sturtevant and I have autism. April is autism awareness month! I have attended Plymouth Schools since 1st grade. I have learned many things in my twelve years at Plymouth Schools. I have learned academics but I have also learned about myself and how to manage my autism. These are all skills I needed to learn to become an adult.
I attended Jefferson Elementary School, there my teacher taught me how to play with kids outside and inside during recess. Kids with autism do not know how to play with other kids, they actually need to be taught how to play, they need to know to look at other kids and share by giving and taking. I learned how to sit in class, I learned how to read and do math. I learned how to write and do English. I needed extra help from a teacher assistant and an autism teacher to learn academics and social skills. I needed an occupational therapist and a speech therapist to help me learn special strategies to work in my class. I also started learning how to work out my own issues and problem solve. Another thing I learned at Jefferson was how to use a schedule and deal with changes in the schedule. That is very hard for someone with autism. People with autism get stressed or tense from a variety of things in school, so I had to learn how to ask my aide for breaks to do sensory work.
I started going to Riverside School in 5th grade. There I learned how to not talk when the teacher is talking, at Riverside I learned how to go from classroom to classroom, there were alot changes doing that. I started to learn how to organize my work, I used a file folder. I had to take accuity tests for the first time, I also had to take more ISTEP tests. I learned how to expand my writing skills. At Riverside I started going to “Circle of Friends” a group of others with autism spectrum disorder, together we learned about autism and how to deal with it. We also learned social skills.
I was anxious about moving to a new school when I went to Lincoln Junior High. Once I got the hang of things it was okay. I still worked on learning to organize my stuff. I learned how to do homework at home and in school during learning center. When I was in 7th grade I ran track and cross country but I stopped because it was so hot and I had sensory issues with heat. The heat interfers with my focus and I decided not to run track or cross country anymore at school. I was also the rooster in Charlotte’s Web, the school play. I was nervous performing in front of an audience but I learned it was fun.
One of the first things when I started at Plymouth High School was how to use a locker and memorize locker codes. At high school I learned how to talk to counselors about classes. I started using a headset and audio to read along when I didn’t understand what the reading assignments were trying tell me. I learned how to read Shakespeare every year I have been at PHS. I use computer audio and visuals to learn Shakespeare. I really work hard in my academic classes sometimes I need an aide to reteach me the information I am expected to learn in my classes. I work pretty hard and like to get my work done ahead of time. The things I like the best in high school are “Circle of Friends” (my social skills group) and my elective classes. I have taken cooking, ceramics, painting, 3D art and 2Dart. I learned computer skills at Plymouth High, I had books in the 9th grade and when I was a sophmore I got my own computer assigned to me. At the beginning it was hard to use the computer but after I used it awhile it got easier every year. One thing I do not like is taking tests, I had to take the ECA tests to graduate, I had to take some of my ECA tests more than one time but I made it! It’s important to learn how to take tests because I am going to Ivy Tech next year and I had to take some tests to get enrolled.
Because of my autism one of the hardest things for me to learn was how to deal with unexpected loud noises. At school there are always noises, there is the fire drill, tornado drill and class bells etc. When I was little I had to go outside with my teachers before the drills would start and now I can handle them.
Going to Plymouth School has helped me to become the best of myself!!!!!