Inside the Classroom: Teaching Kids With Autism

During the month of April, we've been sharing with you stories of Laredo families dealing with autism, to help raise more awareness to the condition. We head into the classroom at Laredo ISD to talk to some of the educators who help teach children with autism.
Gabriela Ramirez is a special education teacher at Leyendecker Elementary. Her class has 8 kids that range in age from 3 to 6, and many of those students have autism.
"We do have our three and four year old's that know their letters, know their numbers, they know their sounds but when you ask for it, they sometimes don't give it to you, they might give it to you maybe an hour later."
Benito Bondoc used to be a special education teacher himself, and is now a behavioral specialist with LISD.
He says if a student needs more specialized teaching, a committee works with the parents to find the best fit for a child.
"If they can be in the regular classroom, she's gonna make plans, he or she, is gonna make plans to send them to the regular classroom as much as possible, and I know we've had some success stories here with Ms. Ramirez, where they send them out to the classroom and they're doing great."
In the classroom, Ms. Ramirez uses several methods of teaching, meant for children with autism. Methods that help the kids communicate when they can't find the words.
"We use the Pecks Communication system, it's a picture book, and when they start, what they want they let us know through pictures, and when they match the picture and give it to you that's great, but when you hear them say, I want candy, that's even better."
She says not only are students in her classroom taught reading and writing, but also life skills, and she says a lot of her students with autism are often misunderstood.
" I would say that they are smart kids, it's just you need to get to understand them, know their strengths, know their weaknesses, get to know them cause each child is very different."
Ms. Ramirez says she loves her job, and the difference she is able to make in these kids' lives. She says it's fulfilling when her students go on to be successful.
"It's great cause I do now have my kids that are already in high school and already graduated and they tell me Ms. Ramirez I'm in college, and I go, oh my goodness, that's wonderful!"
At Laredo ISD, seven of their campuses have special classrooms for kids with autism, divided by age.
The district says they have an open door policy, and parents whose children are in these classrooms are always welcome to sit in and see how their kids are learning.

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