Celebrating Neurodiversity in Our School Communities
Kennycia Hairston, Director of ISE for Rocketship California
We are excited to launch Autism Acceptance Month! In April, we celebrate the unique abilities of every person and focus on building community awareness, understanding, and insight for students with autism and all types of neurodivergent brains. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disability. Signs typically appear during early childhood and affect a person’s communication style and interactions with others.
The Autism Society held the first National Autism Awareness month in 1970 with a focus on spreading information about the signs and symptoms of autism, and the realities of living with an autism diagnosis. Since then, April was widely known with the “Awareness” title, but in recent years, advocates have called for a shift away from the awareness label by stating that awareness is not enough. It is more important than ever to focus on the understanding and inclusion of diverse individuals within our communities. Acceptance is often one of the biggest barriers for those with autism to finding and developing a strong support system in many spaces, including at school.
April 2nd is known as World Autism Acceptance Day. The conversations around identity, access and autonomy are critical and complex. Within neurodiverse communities, there is discussion of the symbolism of wearing red or blue respectively. We wear a color to celebrate and appreciate the neurodiversity in our community. It is not about the color red or color blue, but instead, it is about wearing a color together as a community to celebrate something that historically has not been celebrated before. Each Rocketship California school chose a color to wear on April 2nd in celebration of autism.
At Rocketship, we both celebrate and maintain a bar of excellence for all of our students, including our neurodiverse Rocketeers. This school year, we have had an increase in neurodiverse students enrolled across all of Rocketship California’s 13 schools. We are proud to be able to support all students that come in our doors no matter which Rocketship school they enroll at or what their individual needs are. Each day we show our deep alignment and belief to our model of inclusion. We continue to have students meet their academic achievement goals for both STEP and STAR across the region. We currently have leading rates of 94% of ISE students who have grown 1 STEP level and 63% that have grown 2 STEP levels! Our Rocketeers are growing each day! After launching test prep units (TPUs), we continue to see this true in all of our school spaces. We continue to drive towards meaningful inclusion for all of our students while maintaining a high bar of academic achievement that we know is necessary for our students to continue a strong progression of growth beyond their years at Rocketship.
Thank you all for the deep commitment and hard work you do each and every day for all of our students and families! I am excited for the continued growth of our students this school year and am grateful to work alongside such passionate educators serving our students, families, and communities. At Rocketship, when we say #AllMeansAll, we mean ALL!
Published on April 11, 2023