Young Adult Lit/Crit

April 21, 2008

Autism: the classroom, the literature, the seminar

Filed under: Seminar! — Joyce @ 8:26 pm

As April is Autism Awareness month, I offer a humble seminar on this important topic.

1 in every 150 children in America has autism.

With IDEA, immersion, and early intervention, children who have been diagnosed on the spectrum are able to join mainstream classroom settings more and more. Will you teach a person who has autism? Will you teach the sister or brother of a person who has autism? Will you teach the classmates, peers, and communities of a person who has autism?

The answer, to all of these, is yes.

In my seminar we will discuss literature that includes characters who have autism. We will discuss how literature has changed over time to reflect growing knowledge about the disorder, and ways to enlighten and empower students who live in a time when autism is all around us.

In this seminar we will talk about how autism has been used as metaphor and how metaphor can be difficult for people with autism.

In this seminar we will prepare for awareness. Please join us.




  1. Count me in, Joyce. You are right that this information is critical to teachers… makes me wonder why a course in teaching students with special needs isn’t a requirement of this program.
    What titles will we be looking at?

    Comment by sostrom — April 21, 2008 @ 9:11 pm

  2. Newbie [caught you on my google alert] I do hope that you’ll be covering “The curious Incident” by Mark Haddon as it makes such a fabulous introduction to a complex [and often dry] subject.
    Best wishes

    Comment by Maddy — April 21, 2008 @ 10:58 pm

  3. oh yes, Sarah! I almost forgot:

    The titles we’ll talk about in more depth-


    This book was actually mentioned in our O’Donnell-Allen text. The Body Biography assignment was a medium for unpacking CURIOUS INCIDENT in a 10th grade classroom. I had to wait for quite a while to get this book out of my local library, the librarian said this was a very popular book in my area and was almost always checked out.

    RULES by Cynthia Lord

    Good text for middle school. Catherine is the protagonist, her brother David has autism. Catherine often accompanies David to his occupational therapy over the summer due to her age (12.) She struggles with what people think of her and what people think of David, and what people think of her because of David. Throughtout the book, Catherine constructs “rules” for David to follow so that he may assimilate into society, but her rules actually say a great deal about how she views the world.

    AL CAPONE DOES MY SHIRTS by Gennifer Choldenko

    Historical fiction, takes place in 1930s. The protagonist Moose lives on Alcatraz where his father is a prison guard. Moose’s sister Natalie has autism. This provides a window into how autism was viewed before it was given a proper diagnosis, and several of the “treatments” that Natalie receives are worth discussing. Additionally there is a mob connection, as the title suggests, that propels the reading in the direction of adventure.

    Hope this helps.

    Comment by Joyce — April 22, 2008 @ 11:16 am

  4. Joyce,

    I look forward to participating in your seminar! This is a hot-topic and one that I am very interested in. There has been a lot of information on autism lately on and in the news. As this syndrome is growing in recognition, and diagnosis, I feel that it is our duty as educators and future educators to be aware, and know how to work with it.

    I can’t wait to learn about the books that you have chosen!


    Comment by erinlbowman — April 24, 2008 @ 12:08 pm

  5. Joyce~

    If there is still room, I would love love LOVE to participate in your seminar!! I feel like I could contribute a lot to the seminar and always want to learn more about the topic (both professionally and in the context of YA texts).

    I look forward to it!


    Comment by jexter1 — April 24, 2008 @ 1:55 pm

  6. Also…IMPORTANT…

    Last night my computer decided to attempt suicide, shut down while I was mid-search for my seminar, and managed to erase all of the links and websites I have bookmarked for my seminar (and all other sites). Is there ANY chance you can find &/or resend the link to the article about Sexual Content in YA Lit. that you posted for me a couple months ago?? I tried to search for it on the blog, but had difficulty.

    Please get back to me ASAP.



    Comment by jexter1 — April 25, 2008 @ 8:24 am

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