Educate With Empathy

Yes, I understand my child is “different” than your neurotypical students. That’s because she isn’t neurotypical. She’s autistic.

She’s not going to respond to you the same way the NT students do. In fact, she may not respond at all. Or she may just decide to not do the assignment.

She’s terrified to stand up in front of the class and show off her “bag of self” items. I understand the assignment is to “break the ice”. But c’mon. Most of these kids have been with each other since pre-school. And this is 10th grade. Show and tell went out the window a long time ago. If any of these kids really wants to know my daughter in and out, they can ask her. If they’re lucky, maybe she’ll answer them. She may actually enjoy being asked something about herself for a change. Instead of being forced to stand in front of the class and explain each of her items or make a video and making her more anxious than she already is.

And no, we don’t expect you to “coddle” her. We expect you to accept her, understand her and have empathy for the way she learns. Because the way she learns is different than most children, even in the teen years. Especially in the teen years. Most of all, we expect you to educate her the best way you can. And if that is with empathy, understanding and acceptance of who she is and how she learns, then so be it.

How about trying to teach her and other students life skills, instead of trying to push useless crap down their throats. Knowing Geometry inside and out as well as the names of all the U.S. Secretaries of States may come in handy on “Jeopardy!”, but it’s not going to help you fill out a job application or know and understand what the fine print in a rental agreement may mean.

All we’re asking is for you to have a little empathy in your education process, even at the high school level. Your goal may be to prepare them for the real world. But even in the real world there is empathy. And showing empathy in your teaching can also teach students how to have empathy in and out of school themselves.


I'm a writer. I'm also a wife and a parent who works too much and lives too little. In addition to writing I also love to read, listen to music, travel, cook, I enjoy looking for bargains at flea markets or thrift stores, Christmas, football and of course writing! How did I come up with the title of my blog? Two things: 1. I live in New England (duh) and 2. Canadian singer Alan Frew once arrogantly told me to "get a New England life"--again--DUH! I already HAVE one!