Being a high-school teacher is challenging. Students are in the midst of discovering themselves, developing relationships, and of course, learning how to balance their time between work and play.
For Nadine Leach this is even more challenging – she teaches classes made up entirely of students suffering from Autism Disorders. These students are different from others as the autistic mind processes information in a unique way.
Who is Nadine Leach?
Nadine Leach is a teacher at Robert Bateman High School in Burlington, Ontario. She has had the job for 31 years and began and an English teacher. About 10 years later she began teaching special education and then obtained her specialization to teach Drama. Two years ago the Halton District School Board began funding a pilot project – a drama class for autistic students. Nadine is the only teacher in this pilot program.
What are Autism Disorders?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) refers to the degree and severity of Autism Disorders. The most common of which are Autism Disorder and Asperger’s Disorder. A person on the autism spectrum will suffer from any number of psychological, behavioural and physical symptoms. Autistic students are different from a typical high-school student as the autistic mind processes information in a unique way.
So what is the classroom environment like with such a diverse range of students, all with their own psychological needs?
In her ASD Drama class Nadine has students, male and female, ranging from 13 to 20 years old. Her students are all suffering from either Asperger’s Disorder or Autistic Disorder. Life in Nadine’s ASD drama class can be chaotic.
Even with such a hectic classroom Nadine believes that teaching drama to ASD students is beneficial to them. Drama helps ASD students understand the world around them and to safely express their emotions.
At The End Of It All
Spending the day teaching such energetic students who need a high-level of supervision can be tiring. At the end of the day Nadine is tired and exhausted, but managed to relax enough to face tomorrow.
Nadine Leach faces many challenges in teaching ASD students, but to her it is worthwhile. She said the students come out will skills and friendships they would not have otherwise. Nadine is helping to change the lives of her students and make the world a less scary place for them.
– Kelly Fram