An non dual teacher has a truly awesome job, one not to be taken lightly. Autistic children need a tremendous amount of attention and instruction — not necessarily just in the basics like reading, writing and arithmetic, as those are skills that all students at all levels need to know, but in other skills that you may not find specifically written down in the curriculum — social interactions.
You need to understand that autistic children, for the most part, are not stupid or even dumb. In fact, many studies and tests have concluded and come to realize that autistic children are generally some of the smartest children in the school, at least from an academic standpoint. Many of them will learn quickly if the autism teacher has employed the right kind of teaching aids and approaches that are required when teaching children with autism.
But where these types of students need the most help is with social interactions. For whatever reason, their social skills are severely impeded and they need instruction and repetitive teaching to help them understand how to act, behave and react in today’s society. One of the ways these types of students seem to learn best with the most retention is by example, and not to anyone’s surprise, the typical example they examine and view as a role model is their autism teacher, which puts an additional load of responsibility on that teacher.
You may think that these students only learn in the classroom but that is far from the truth. Yes they learn in the classroom but they also learn a great deal outside the classroom, and since they usually live in the some city or general area, they will frequently see their autism teacher out and about, and will continue to see them as an example or role model to be following and imitating.
While most autism teachers take their responsibility seriously and recognize this fact, there are some, as shown clearly in this case study, who should not be teaching autism because their life outside of the classroom is NOT something that should be viewed by anyone as an example or a role model. As an analogy, how much respect would you have for a priest who is seen most evenings very drunk in a local bar? Would you be inclined to become a member of that church in that case?
Children are incredibly perceptive, particularly autistic children, and they see, observe, internalize and contemplate much more than we usually give them credit for. When they observe their autism teacher lying to another teacher, or continually complaining to others about the behavior or actions of another teacher, what is that telling them? It tells them that such behavior is fine and acceptable. When the students see their autism teacher being “flirty” with virtually anyone who comes into the classroom or even outside the classroom, those actions are teaching the student that such things are acceptable and should be done as a part of everyday life. What message is being given to that autistic student when they observe their teacher locked in a passionate embrace in the school library with someone else that they recognize is not the spouse of their teacher?
Perhaps there are some non-teaching professions where the Jekyll/Hyde nature of a person does not impact other people, but for an autism teacher, such behavior should be considered unacceptable, as those observations from the autistic student are sending conflicting messages to that child, only serving to further confuse them as to what is right and acceptable in today’s society.