Fostering Acceptance – NYC PS & You 03/28/24

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Fostering Acceptance

Dear New Yorkers,

Words matter. They have power. It’s an idea we emphasize often as educators and parents, whether we are teaching our students to read or fostering their civic engagement.

I want to highlight a recent choice of words that caught my attention. In a few days, it will be April, which is Autism Acceptance Month. The purpose of this month is not to simply to acknowledge autistic people. As its name makes clear, the goal is acceptance.

One way we foster acceptance is through building understanding. I’d like to highlight one particular example from our Special Education Office, which hosts terrific webinars in their Beyond Access Series. These webinars share information on supporting students with disabilities, and while they’re designed for families, they are an excellent resource for staff and community members as well.

Last week, we had over 5,000 participants register for a session about becoming a certified IEP Parent Member, a role in which parents support and advocate for other parents in students’ IEP meetings. This is an innovative opportunity for families to develop their own expertise and understanding while also helping fellow parents—what a way to build a welcoming and inclusive culture!

We have another webinar approaching soon, on April 8. This one is focused on related services recommendations, and I encourage interested families and staff to register today. And of course, you can always visit our website to learn more about our work to reimagine special education, such as adopting more inclusive language and expanding our Nest, Horizon and AIMS programs, which teach autistic students in their neighborhood schools.

This month, let’s focus on acceptance. It’s how we want all our children to feel, no matter their identity or background. Follow us on social media @nycschools to learn more about how we’re promoting belonging – from celebrating Women’s History Month in March to honoring Arab American Heritage Month, also this April – and how we’re ensuring everyone is seen, heard, and uplifted.

Soaring high,

David C. Banks


Our Spotlight Video:

Horizon is a small class setting in your neighborhood public school for autistic learners! Eight students get focused social skills… | Instagram

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