In 1997, more than 63% of the students enrolled in public schools were white. By the fall of 2017, the percentage of white students in public schools dropped to 48%, and is expected to decrease to 44% by the fall of 2029.*
Further, these changes in the racial demographics of U.S. students foreshadows the expected shifts in the racial demographics of our nation as whole. The United States Census Bureau projects the white population in our country to decline from 63% in 2012 to an estimated 43% by 2060.
Given the increasingly diverse community in which we live, it’s more important than ever for teachers and administrators to ensure a multicultural approach to classroom and school activities. And when we speak of “culture” we are not limiting ourselves to race, but religion, ethnicity, socio-economic status, and more.
Benefits of a Multi-Cultural Approach to Education
Student Engagement—When students see themselves and their culture reflected in classroom lessons and school activities, they are more engaged and inspired.
Student Confidence—By highlighting their culture and encouraging open-mindedness towards others, students feel more confident in themselves and their interactions with diverse people.
Increased Empathy—Encouraging students to explore history and current events from different perspectives encourages understanding and empathy.
Creativity and Critical Thinking—Classroom activities among students of diverse backgrounds can inspire creativity and critical thinking, as well as an appreciation for diverse perspectives.
While a multi-cultural approach to education improves student success, of greater importance is helping students develop the skills and attitudes to understand and appreciate diverse cultures so they may flourish in school, at work, and in community settings.
For the 2020-2021 school year, Greater Cincinnati Foundation awarded Linden Grove School two grants to support classroom activities related to diversity and inclusion. Further, as part of its 2020-2023 Strategic Plan, the school will increase efforts to encourage in students and staff the knowledge, skills, dispositions, and attitudes to understand and appreciate our differences and our common humanity.
Nothing positively impacts student achievement more than family engagement in their child’s school and educational process. Moreover, because educational planning for a student with autism addresses a wide range of skill development, family involvement in that process is particularly important in helping students develop the skills and abilities for success in school, and beyond.
Here are just a few of the benefits of encouraging positive relationships between a student’s family members and school staff members:
Teachers can connect classroom activities to a student’s interests, experiences, and culture. When presented with information and activities that interest them or that they can relate to, a student’s attention, participation, and motivation increase. Additionally, incorporating students’ cultural traditions into classroom activities can create a multicultural education experience for the benefit of all students and staff.
Family members and staff identify accommodations and supports to increase student success. Families can offer insight about supports that have worked well in prior years, and those that have not. Sharing of ideas and experiences also encourages a consistent use of effective supports (organizational systems, use of fidgets, frequent breaks, reward systems, alternative seating, etc.) between home and school.
Family members and staff encourage in each other high expectations for students. For students to achieve their potential, teachers and parents/caregivers need to have high expectations. Having high expectations means believing every student can learn. When a student is struggling, you try new ways of engaging them or new ways to help them. You demonstrate with words and behavior, encouragement, support, and enthusiasm.
As Linden Grove School explores options for growth, also included in its 2020-2023 Strategic Plan are strategies for ensuring the continuation of quality instruction and supports for students, including maintaining strong relationships with parents and retaining dedicated, compassionate staff.
Fewer than 1 in 6 of all adults on the Autism spectrum—about 15%—have full time work. Further, among young adults with autism, only 58% held employment at some point following high school, compared to 74% of those with an intellectual disability and 91% of those with an emotional disturbance.*
Fortunately, an increasing amount of research shows the business benefits of hiring people with autism. For example, through its Autism at Work initiative JPMorgan Chase found that their 300+ neurodiverse employees are, as a whole, 48% faster and 92% more productive than their neurotypical employees.
Hiring individuals with autism is not without challenges. Individuals on the spectrum often have trouble with social interactions and communications; co-workers may not understand how to interact with a person with autism without some sort of employee training, Individuals on the spectrum may also have sensory sensitivities or difficulties adapting to change, and could benefit from accommodations such as noise-reducing headphones and advance notice of changes in the workplace or work activities.
Linden Grove School is grateful to the increasing number of businesses—large and small—who have initiated efforts to attract and support employees with autism. Applied Behavior Analysis Programs Guide recently compiled a list of the 30 best employers for people with autism.
Over the next decade, an estimated 707,000 to 1,116,000 teens with autism will transition out of high school. If trends continue, their participation in post-secondary education or paid employment will be significantly lower than those of their typical peers, or even those with learning disabilities.*
36% of young adults with autism enroll in post-secondary education following high school, compared to 62% of their typical peers and even 55% of young adults with learning disabilities.
58% of young adults with autism have held community employment, the majority of which were part-time and low-paying jobs. Again, this is significantly lower than even the 95% employment rate among young adults with learning disabilities.
Linden Grove School is encouraged by the increasing array of programs and supports to help teens with autism transition to post-secondary education, meaningful employment, and/or housing and residential supports. To truly help young adults achieve their personal goals whatever they might be, requires increased emphasis on educational programs and supports for school-age children.
Educational planning for students with autism often addresses a wide range of skill development including academics, language and communication, social skills, behavior, and more. No one program or approach is ideal for all students with autism; families should explore and learn about different options and choose the one they feel is most appropriate.
Once the option for education has been determined, a positive relationship between parents and professionals increases student success. Parents should share with educators their expectations, as well as methods and motivations that work at home; teachers and other professionals similarly share information on their expectations and needs, as well as insights and ideas. Open communication between parents and professionals can lead to more effective goal-setting and evaluation of a student’s progress.
*See studies from the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, National Center for Special Education Research, and American Academy of Pediatrics.
One in 54 children in the U.S. have autism according to a CDC report released in March 2020. That’s nearly a 10% increase from the 1 in 59 reported by the CDC two years previously.
The latest biennial report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on autism prevalence rates indicates awareness for autism spectrum disorder and a valuing of a formal diagnosis are growing. In addition, for the first time the CDC found no difference in prevalence rates between black and white children, (though a gap remains in prevalence among Hispanic children.)
Linden Grove School (LGS) is encouraged by the increased diagnosis of autism among students as a means to encourage school districts and other service providers to develop or promote options proven successful in supporting children with ASD. For example, early intervention programs for toddlers and preschoolers not only give children the best start possible, but also the best chance of developing to their full potential.
LGS is similarly encouraged by the lack of difference among prevalence rates among white and black students; however:
Hispanic children with ASD continue to be identified at lower rates compared to white or black children;
Black and Hispanic children with ASD received evaluations later than white children with ASD, limiting opportunities for early interventions critical for success in school and beyond.
As part of its plan for growth, Linden Grove School will increase marketing efforts to maintain its enrollment growth, with particular focus on Hispanic/Latino and other underrepresented communities.
Linden Grove School (LGS) is proud to the most recent Duke Energy School of the Week featured on Local 12 WKRC.
LGS was nominated by Jenny Cunningham whose son thrived in response to the school’s specialized approach to education. In a letter to Local 12 WKRC, Mrs. Cunningham explained:
“Linden Grove School Linden Grove is more than a school. It’s a support system that can be life-changing for many families. . . .
“The kids are happy here and they’re comfortable here and they don’t have to try to be somebody they’re not. They are welcome for who they are. It’s just very rewarding as a parent to know that you can send your child here and they’re going to get everything they need from top to bottom.”
As School-of-the-Week, Linden Grove School was visited by Local 12’s Perry Schaible and Duke Energy vice-president Jim Henning, who presented the school with a check for $1,000.
There are individuals with autism. There are family members who support those individuals. And there is that essential larger community of support – the many people devoted to enhancing the lives of people with autism.
Now is a good time for all of us, with or without autism, to focus on the faces of these extraordinary people.
Children with autism often have difficulty maintaining focus.
This can result in students not understanding or remembering what is being taught. This, in turn, makes it difficult for students to complete assignments and prepare for tests, often leading to feelings of failure and low self-esteem.
Linden Grove School (LGS) staff members continuously work to identify and maintain the best learning environment for each individual student. Each classroom includes sensory tools and equipment, such as active seating options like exercise balls and wobble stools to provide the constant motion some children with autism need to be more attentive. Other students benefit from foot and finger fidgets, or even exercise bands tied around the legs of a chair.
Each new student often requires new equipment and supplies to help them maximize their learning potential. But as LGS continues to grow, so does the impact of the cost of these items on the school’s annual budget.
Support a student.
Your contribution will ensure each student has the classroom equipment and supplies that can help them maintain focus – and learn.
Costs range from $100 for a wobble stool, to $50 for fidget spinners for a class, to $25 for exercise bands for a classroom of chairs.
Children with autism often struggle with fine and gross motor skills.
A student’s difficulty using scissors or writing with a pencil can make school projects difficult, leading to feelings of frustration.
The inability to enter into a simple game of catch or climbing on playground equipment can make it difficult for students to interact with other kids – and to make friends.
Linden Grove School (LGS) students meet with an occupational therapist each week during the school day. In addition, therapists lead or participate in classroom activities – this enables therapists to address needs as they arise, and therapists and teachers to work collaboratively on helping students fully participate in school activities.
Support a student.
Your contribution will ensure LGS students continue to receive the added benefit of including therapists in classroom activities.
The inclusion of occupational therapists into classroom activities costs LGS nearly $100 a week.
The inclusion of speech therapists into classroom activities costs LGS nearly $500 a week.