While delivering our Simulation Game program one day, two adults sat together chatting while frequently reminding the students to “be quiet”. After the program, one of the ladies came up to me saying, “Heather, can I ask you one question?” Following the program questions are typically about the program, therefore I turned to the lady and said, “Of course.” She said, “Where did you get your boots, I just love them.”
These adults where not modeling social inclusion.
Adult behaviour plays a key role in modeling social inclusion for individuals on the autism spectrum and their peers. Adult models provide children with the behaviours they mirror when interacting with their peers.
The old saying “do as I say, not as I do” just does not hold weight anymore. If adults in the environment treat the individual on the autism spectrum as an equal, then peers will see that individual as an equal. However, if adults treat that individual as a person “needing help” or as “less than,” then peers will perceive the person with autism that way too.
Children need good adult models. This is especially true when the adults are modeling social inclusion. And our actions speak louder than our words, so make your actions count with a few simple rules for modeling social inclusion, they are:
– Be aware of your own behaviour, model the behaviour you desire in the children
– Use person-first language at all times
– “Not about me, without me” Never talk about a child in front of them or their peer group
– Privacy and confidentiality model respect
– Model, label, explain and normalize to create a culture of inclusion
Remember you are modeling social inclusion; don’t expect children to do as you say – because they will do as you do!
FYI: The boots were Fly!