YORKTOWN, N.Y.-Girl Scout Julia Capshaw recently turned the tables on her Yorktown teachers, holding staff seminars so they can better educate students with autism and Asperger’s.
Capshaw, of Troop 1487, designed the Asperger’s Awareness program in the Yorktown Central School District as part of her Gold Award project. She earned the award in a March 10 ceremony at the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel.
“I wanted to bring to our schools a better understanding of what it is like to live with Asperger’s/ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder),” Capshaw said. “I wanted to give a firsthand perspective of how we think and react differently to situations, particularly in the school setting, and how staff can best assist students with this condition.”
At the staff seminars, Capshaw gave hour-long presentations that included video interviews. She also created a handbook for staff to reference and, through T-shirt sales, raised money to provide care boxes for students to assist with stress and sensory needs.
“I hope the teachers learned skills and gained the tools to help them better understand people like me and to help their students be successful with school,” Capshaw said. “I want the teachers to understand that children with Asperger’s/ASD do not need to be just like everyone else but accepted for the individuals they are.”
Through the project, Capshaw said she learned that people truly have an interest in helping children with Asperger’s and autism.
“I also learned that I have a lot to offer and to be more confident with myself, that I should be proud of who I am,” Capshaw said.