At the Watson Institute, students with special needs are encouraged to participate in daily activities that are fun and help them work towards achieving their Individualized Education Plan (IEP) goals. Students with high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the WISCA program, a special education school at Watson, have recently embraced an educational opportunity that also allows them to give back to their community and spread positivity to their peers.
WISCA Program Coordinator, Marcia Laus, stumbled across the Dude Be Nice project on Facebook and shared a few of their videos with staff during orientation before the most recent school year. The group immediately embraced it and were very excited to implement the project with their students.
Each month, students with Autism Spectrum Disorder at WISCA get to help pick the Dude Be Nice theme for the month. There is a group of students who volunteer to be on a planning team to help make decisions about the activities which aim to promote positivity and community appreciation.
Students kicked off the movement in October with “Dude – You’ve Been Booed!” an activity during which each classroom did something nice and/or shared treats with students in another classroom. Every classroom participated and the students had a great time sharing their Halloween treats with their classmates.
In November and December the focus for the students was spreading the cheer of the holidays. Students and staff hosted a “Friendsgiving” meal and in December, WISCA students got to play Santa for a few families of LEAP Preschool students in need. Baskets of gifts and goodies were prepared by the students and delivered to the preschoolers.
Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder Practice Social Skills Development
The majority of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the WISCA program have a social skills development goal in their Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and strive to learn how to understand the perspective of other people. Marcia and her staff agree that encouraging the students to show their gratitude to others and enabling them to make choices in how they show their appreciation would help the students improve their ability to empathize and understand others’ perspectives.
Last month, the students at the WISCA special education school decided to show their appreciation for their bus drivers by delivering coffee and donuts to them. Students also made signs and posted them outside of the school so their drivers would see them upon arrival and departure. Social interactions such as these with individuals in their community help not only to spread positivity and gratitude, but help our students with Autism Spectrum Disorder work to develop their social interaction skills.
There are many more fun and educational activities to come as the students carry out the mission of the Dude Be Nice movement each month and work on further developing their social skills.
For more information about the Watson Institute’s special education school for students with high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder, check out our WISCA program. Also, if you’re interested in learning more about the Dude Be Nice movement and how to implement this with your students or in your community – check out their website!