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Dr. Tisha Shipley has been in education for over 23 years. She has taught Pre-K, Kindergarten, Gifted and Talented 3rd-6th Grades, Dr. Shipley was an elementary principal, a cheer coach, and was on...
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Having HIgh Expectations for All Students

Each month as an educator, it is important for teachers to reflect on his or her classroom practices and the how and whys of what we do. April is Autism Awareness month, and this is such a special time because as teachers and leaders, we should self-reflect on things we can do better or differently to help all children-including children with autism succeed. High expectations for all students are vital. In classrooms today, teachers must differentiate for all students and include each child in all aspects of the learning community.

Important Facts:

  • Today, about 1 in 68 children are being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015).
  • (ASD) is five times more common in boys than in girls. Boys (1 in 42) Girls (1 in 189) (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015).

These statistics mean that in our classrooms, we are encountering these children more and more. We are doing our best to meet their needs and to incorporate them into classroom life with their peers. We must ensure that our expectations and standards for all students are high and reflect on each individual. As teachers, we have hopes and dreams for our students: they will succeed in learning to read, they will graduate from high school, attend college, find a meaningful career, and maybe even get married and have children.

Sue Rubin is an excellent example of a four-year-old child diagnosed with autism that lived her life and achieved many goals and dreams she had for herself. Her exemplary, headstrong, positive attitude is what we need to expect from all of our students. When we set high expectations and standards in our classrooms, children will rise to the occasion.

Sue Rubin’s Life

Working with families of children with autism can be very beneficial to our classrooms too. Most families are determined to educate themselves with as much information as possible about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), including what services and supports are available to assist them and their child. Remember that families know their children best. They may have suggestions or ideas of things that can help you while you are teaching all children. You may also have suggestions that they can use at home. A reciprocal relationship with all families is important so that you can work together to do what is best for each child. The following blog by Carrie Cariello shows a glimpse into a family with five children and their daily encounters with one that has (ASD). She brings light and love to the situation and finds the positive in every day.

Carrie Cariello’s Blog

Ideas to Use in your Classroom:

  • Picture Schedules
  • Routines and Procedures (that are the same every day)
  • Keep all directions/commands simple
  • Buddy Systems (Not all of the time, special times)
  • Visual Cues

As you read through some of these ideas, you begin to think, this is something I already do or would do with all of my students. You are exactly correct. The list of ideas can and should be used in a developmentally appropriate classroom setting with all students. High expectations should be for each and every student. You know your students, you know what they can do, and you can set each expectation just as you would differentiate your classroom instruction and curriculum.

Involvement to Help Fund Autism

Autism Speaks is an advocacy organization that holds community involvement events nationwide. Autism Awareness Month is a wonderful opportunity to promote autism awareness while shining a spotlight on those individuals and their families who will receive a diagnosis year after year. For more information on Autism Awareness Month and an opportunity to get involved, please visit Autism Speaks and American Autism Association.

~ Tisha


Carrie Cariello. (2015). Exploring the Colorful World Of Autism.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 2015. Data and Statistics.

Speaking of Autism: Sue Rubin. (2014).

Extra Resources:

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Seven Steps for Setting up a Stellar Autism Classroom: Visuals