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Connolly Celebrates Neurodiversity During Autism Acceptance Month

Students at Connolly Elementary School celebrated neurodiversity and showed support for those living with autism during the school’s first Spirit Week for Autism Acceptance Month. From Monday, April 11, to Thursday, April 14, students dressed according to a theme each day while learning about the experiences and achievements of people with autism. “The purpose of this week was to foster empathy among our students so that they could understand what those with autism experience every day,” said Principal Bryce Klatsky.  

The week kicked off with Autism & Neurodiversity Acceptance Day on Monday, highlighted by students wearing rainbow colors to represent and support neurodiversity, or variations in brain functions and behavioral traits.  Students stood in the formation of a giant rainbow infinity sign for a photo portraying the modern symbol that stands for accepting those with autism and other neurological conditions such as dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Throughout the week, students also learned about the achievements of people with autism such as scientist and animal behaviorist Temple Grandin and Pokémon creator Satoshi Tajiri. On Tuesday, students wore Pokémon-themed clothes to celebrate Tajiri’s legacy.

One common characteristic of those living with autism is having an intense passion for a specific topic or hobby. In recognition, Wednesday was declared “What’s Your Passion Wednesday,” with students dressing up to reflect their interests.

Students also learned about how those with autism often have a variety of sensory sensitivities. To reflect this, students on Thursday came to class in their pajamas and other comfortable clothes while teachers used natural light in their classrooms. 

“We want all of our students to know that they are accepted and appreciated, no matter what they may experience or challenge they may have that makes them feel different from others. By learning about autism this week, our students are learning to support each other and to understand how we, as a society, benefit from neurodiversity,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Maria Rianna.

Connolly Elementary School is continuously looking for ways to support neurodivergent students. Recently, school psychologist Anna Lagos and social worker Rose Wollins created a Calm-Down Room to ease students experiencing sensory overload or anxiety.  The room’s fluorescent lights are covered with teal filters for a softer glow and the room is full of sensory toys, bean bag chairs and books. 

Connolly Autism Acceptance 1

Connolly Autism Acceptance 2