In my study, I found that when the autistic children were able to access their intense interests, this brought, on the whole, a range of inclusionary advantages. Research has also shown longer-term benefits too, such as developing expertise, positive career choices and opportunities for personal growth. This underscores how important it is that the education of autistic children is not driven by a sense of their deficits, but by an understanding of their interests and strengths. And that rather than dismissing their interests as ‘obsessive’, we ought to value their perseverance and concentration, qualities we usually admire. And while we do need a better understanding of the negative manifestations of very strong interests, we also need to think differently, and better about the educational inclusion of autistic children. So maybe it’s time to ditch the ‘strategies for inclusion’ – which, let’s face it, aren’t working – and allow teachers the flexibility they need to be able to tap into the strong interests of autistic children in school.
Via Ryan Boren