Cultivating an Autism-Friendly Communication Style

On February 24th, Bank Street College Expert Workshop Series had a record turnout gathering over hundred attendees, specialists and practitioners on the Autism Spectrum, as well as graduate students interested in special education topics.       The expert presenter was Catherine Faherty, a well-known international autism specialist, school program consultant and trainer on autism topics. The topic presented by Dr. Faherty was Cultivating an Autism-Friendly Communication Style.Dr. Faherty encouraged participants to think of themselves as communication partners rather than as a person who is a family member, teacher, therapist or any other relationship to the person with whom they are communicating. With this new framework, Dr. Faherty led a discussion that allowed the attendees to become aware that the autistic style of communicating is different from — neither inferior nor superior to — the more familiar neurotypical communication style. She suggested that this new framework allows the potential communicator to make “new agreements” about how to communicate, and consequently, how to interact.The Expert Workshop Series was initiated in the spring of 2011 and was sponsored by a four-year grant awarded to Bank Street College to provide professional development, resulting in a twelve credit annotation, to four yearly cohorts of school professionals already possessing a Master’s Degree in special education or speech. The Autism Annotation Spectrum program leads to the Severe or Multiple Disabilities Annotation in New York State and enables those completing the annotation to provide a greater depth of services to more severely or multiply disabled children, including

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