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America's 'Radical Elders' continue their work for fairness, justice; SCOTUS upholds law disarming domestic abusers; Workplace adoption benefits help families, communities; Report examines barriers to successful post-prison re-entry in NC.

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A congresswoman celebrates Biden protections for mixed status families, Louisiana's Ten Commandments law faces an inevitable legal challenge, and a senator moves to repeal the strict 19th century anti-obscenity and anti-abortion Comstock Act.

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A Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival while rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town and prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands.

Creating a supportive classroom for students with ASD

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Wednesday, April 10, 2024   

April is Autism Acceptance Month and as rates grow, support organizations in South Dakota hope more children on the spectrum get the tools they need to succeed in school.

Researchers with the Annie E Casey Foundation say nearly 9% of South Dakota students receive special education services due to an autism diagnosis, which is four percentage points higher than a decade ago.

Carla Miller, executive director of South Dakota Parent Connection, which works with families of children with disabilities, encouraged parents of children with autism to be proactive with school officials and follow up as needed. For school districts, she stressed clear communication is vital.

"We need to be careful we're not using a lot of jargon that's our related to our field, and really make sure that we ask parents, are they understanding the information we're giving?" Miller urged.

Miller also advised classroom leaders should allow students with autism to participate in as many general class activities as possible while acknowledging their needs. With staffing shortages still a concern, she called on districts to provide more training, especially for general educators.

Miller emphasized special educators cannot foster a welcoming environment on their own and in an era of more awareness, Miller hopes school districts look at students on the spectrum as individuals who bring unique qualities to their class.

"How is autism showing up in the life of that child, and how is it impacting that child?" Miller asked. "Trying to stay away from stereotypical descriptions of autism that can put kids in a box. "

Autism presents a broad range of conditions highlighted by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, and communication. Advocates stressed symptoms can vary widely and the disorder looks different for everyone on the spectrum.


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