Inside room 13 of Hamilton Elementary, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) teachers and paraprofessionals continue to work with their students daily. However, it's more than just the staff members taking responsibility for the students' learning.
The LINK program at Hamilton Elementary pairs third and fourth grade students with classmates from the ASD classroom. Together, the students get together monthly to find things in common, have conversations, and play games.
More information about LINKS from ASD Teacher, Amy Bufka:
Students who bring back their signed permission form are then paired with a student with Autism that is in their gen ed class. We meet once a month with the large group (All LINKS) and we focus on a specific autism/friendship/etc topic each month. We also watch a video either to learn more about the topic or an inspirational video of someone with autism doing something great or about being friends with someone who may be different. We then separate into our small groups and answer questions the LINKs may have about the topic for the month, we also fill out a case conference about how the month went for them as a LINK. It asks 4 questions. The best experience with my link this month was?, I am excited about?, Something I am not sure how to handle is?, and one other question I have is?. We have a snack that has been donated and play a fun minute to win it game.
Then once a month the small group meets during lunch recess with their link and their adult group leader for a short time, we do an activity to get to know each other better in a safe, judgement free zone and then do a fun, social activity. Playing a game together, doing a puzzle together, pretend play like pretending to run a restaurant, house, etc.
The friendships that I have seen built because of this program and just the overall sense of acceptance that has happened not only with my ASD students but with all the students is amazing!
View the video below for more information and to see ASD student Silas working with his classmates Eva, Emden, and Logan!