JOPLIN, Mo — Unless you have a medical condition, it can be hard to describe it to others that don’t.
Students at an area school now have at least some idea of what it’s like to have a common developmental disorder.
Autism is a developmental disorder that affects someone’s behavior and ability to communicate.
And thanks to a program put on by Easter Seals Midwest, kindergarten students at St. Mary’s Catholic Elementary School have at least some idea of what their lives would be like if they had autism.
“We talk a little bit about characteristics of autism, and then primarily how to be a friend to someone with autism, and then uh and then we bring them through a simulation activity that may show them what it may feel like to have autism,” said Tracy Taylor, Autism Services Manager, Easter Seals Midwest.
“It is near and dear to my heart, my son Scottie has autism, and many of the students know Scottie because he will come here and volunteer, he’ll do some tasks here in the building, he’ll read to our younger students and so a lot of the students know him so I think it was easy for them the get behind it and relate to that,” said Margie Black, St. Mary’s teacher.
“What were some of the things you did to make it feel like you had autism?”
“We put beads in our shoes and put socks on our hands and we put like a velcro thing on our neck,” said Jacqueline Longnecker, St. Mary’s kindergarten student.
People in the autism spectrum often experience sensory overload as part of their condition, that’s what the simulation is designed to mimic.
Some of the volunteers with Easter Seals have autism.
“I just want kids to be comfortable around everybody, and if they see my son Scottie, or somebody like Scottie, it’s not staring, it’s not pointing, it’s going ‘oh yeah, I know what that is, I’ve seen that before,’ ” said Black.