Karen Blacher, a special-ed teacher from New York, wrote a Facebook post at the end of September. She talked about her classroom that she designed her for neurotypical students (those who are not defined in the autism spectrum) to resemble one that caters to special education.
When Karen wrote this post, she did not realise she was telling the world something not commonly known. Her post got a lot of appreciation for practising inclusion and was shared overnight by thousands of educators as well as parents.
Her post reads, “All of my students are neurotypical, but my classroom looks very much like a special education classroom. I teach mindfulness and emotional literacy. I provide fidgets and sensory toys. I have a calm corner and use it to teach self-regulation.”
Karen has two children of her own who have autism and she is familiar with neurodiversity. She told Good Morning America that her students remain successful because they learn "without the anxiety that tends to be provoked by traditional behaviour systems like clip charts and token economies, those don't work well for anyone."
According to Karen, once one learns to accommodate the autistics children, teaching any other child is not that difficult. “But I have never encountered a single human being, of any age or neurotype, who doesn't thrive when treated like an autistic person. (I mean, of course, treated the way an autistic person OUGHT to be treated. With open communication, adaptive expectations, and respect for self-advocacy and self-regulation),” she says.
Karen also has a blog where she later wrote about her post going viral. She says she is being reached by many individuals and organisations asking about her teaching style. She tells them she adapts the classroom based on what her students tell her with their words and behaviour. She practices emotional literacy and mindfulness, sensory experiences, calm corner, self-directed progress, etc.
Her efforts are remarkable and brilliant as she goes beyond the words of her students to support them, something that can bring a revolution in the special-ed community.