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4bf5c9672aafeWHS student Evan Callan (center, in light blue sweatshirt), who lives with autism, poses with other students in his speech class, taught by Mrs. Diane Reece.
WHS student Evan Callan (center, in light blue sweatshirt), who lives with autism, poses with other students in his speech class, taught by Mrs. Diane Reece.

High School Speech Class Sponsors Autism Awareness Week

Students Learn Valuable Lesson That Effective Communication can Exist with Everyone

Utilizing information and experience gathered throughout the semester, WHS speech students are setting aside a week to teach their fellow classmates and staff about autism and communication.

The motivation behind this project was a unique student. Evan Callan, a transitional student, attends speech class during second hour and is autistic.

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Because this is a communication class, we have made it a goal to incorporate Evan into our class and learn how best to communicate with him. This has been a great experience for all of us.

Abbie Huenink, transitional special needs instructor, has spent time with the speech class throughout the semester explaining autism and helping students understand Evan’s world. In addition, the paras (Mrs. Storm, Mrs. Jonas and Mrs. White), who are with Evan in speech class, have been valuable resources.

“Many questions regarding Evan were answered first-hand when Evan’s mom came to our class and shared a parent’s view of having an autistic child,” stated WHS Speech Instructor Diane Reece.   

As a final informative speech assignment, students presented facts about autism and shared communication experiences with Evan to students and staff during Warrior Period.

The speech students spent several days making posters, pins and magnets, and gathering information for the project. Ms. Huenink contacted several organizations for informational resources. But the best surprise was receiving autographed Goo-Goo Dolls CDs from the Autism Action Partnership, which will be raffled off. All raffle proceeds will go to the Nebraska Autism Association, which supports and advocates for individuals with autism and their families in Nebraska.    

Thanks to our experience with Evan, speech students have learned first-hand that understanding a person’s “filters” is the first step toward effective communication.

It’s a lesson for all of us – we are too quick to label people without taking time to know them and understand why they communicate the way they do.  

High School Speech Class Sponsors Autism Awareness Week

Larry Fangmanlfangman@esu2.orgteacher

May 21, 2010

This was a wonderful thing to do. I learned a lot about Evan and autism. Kudos to Mrs. Reece and her speech class.
Lynae Callan

May 25, 2010

I commend Mrs Reece and the Speech Class for their work with Evan and this project. I cannot express my gratitude for your acceptance and willingness to make Evan a part of your class. He is very lucky to attend a school that values all individuals - and the work you do to see the "ability" and not the "disability". Thank you to ALL who work with Evan! Keep up the great work WHS!