If I could suggest to any teacher one thing she could do for a child with autism in a classroom, it would be to tune herself into finding little ways to include him.
Once in kindergarten, my teacher read Dr. Seuss's "A Many Colored Days" in circle time. The book talked about feelings: "Some days are yellow. Some are blue. On different days, I'm different too." She held the book up and asked, "What do you see?" The pictures were of children who looked like gingerbread cookies.
My classmates called out the expected answers. One said, "It's a boy." Another said, "It's people." I raised my hand excitedly. When she called on me, I blurted out, "I like blue gingerbread men!"
Her face fell. She moved on, dismissing my possibly tangential comment entirely. She never took a second look at the page to see what I saw. Had she done so, she might have asked the other kids if they, too, saw gingerbread children. And that would have roped me in.
The moment missed, this experience set the tone for the school year. I was the kid who made off-beat remarks that dropped in the circle like lead balloons.