Social stories help kids learn about autism


Staff Report



<p style="text-align: right;">Courtesy image A self-portrait of Nord Elementary student Giovonnie Kirkendoll appears in his book, “All About Gio.”

Courtesy image A self-portrait of Nord Elementary student Giovonnie Kirkendoll appears in his book, “All About Gio.”


Sometimes storytelling is the best is the best way to teach. Other times, it’s the best way to learn.

Fifth grade teacher Julia Homolya and intervention specialist Corrie Engle have been using “social stories” to reach their students at Nord Middle School in Amherst.

It’s a way to get kids of all stripes to talk about autism.

These types of stories are like instruction manuals or rule books that help in social, emotional, and physical situations. Engle said they can help students with special needs more readily embrace anything from table manners to how to take part in a fire drill.

Homolya said her typical students also learn valuable lessons about empathy by writing social stories for their peers with special needs.

Their students have also entered the Young Authors Writing Competition, penning their own short stories.

Engle showed the Amherst board of education a copy of “All About Gio,” an 18-page autobiography by Gio Kirkendoll, a 12-year-old boy with special needs. It shares his love for spaghetti, SpongeBob Squarepants, the film “Toy Story,” napping, and helping with the family laundry chores.

Courtesy image A self-portrait of Nord Elementary student Giovonnie Kirkendoll appears in his book, “All About Gio.”

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Courtesy image A self-portrait of Nord Elementary student Giovonnie Kirkendoll appears in his book, “All About Gio.”

Staff Report