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April is Autism Awareness Month and IMESD is highlighting our Autism Consultants!

Kristine Hudson is an Autism Consultant who has worked for the agency for seven years. 

Can you describe your job?  First, I am an advocate for ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) individuals -- in schools and in the community. I help teachers and staff (and sometimes parents) who work with autistic students to better understand students’ individual and unique needs. I also help them find interventions and teaching methods for students to have the most independent and successful experiences and outcomes from kindergarten to 21 years.

How does your work contribute to student success? I hope it helps each student to have a positive experience in their classroom, P.E., in the cafeteria, at an assembly, on the playground, during a fire drill, etc. Our goal is to help ASD students be equipped with “tools” to be successful anywhere at school, generalize their skills and abilities and ultimately be completely independent!

What do you enjoy most about your job? I love the kids most of all. It’s hard not to fall in love with each one of them; working with them and watching them grow is the icing on the cake for me. When I started working with these kids, I thought I would be sad or emotional, but they usually make me smile and laugh and I always feel better after spending time with them!

What is something people may not know about Autism Spectrum Disorder? People may not know that autistic individuals think differently than “neurotypical” people because the structure of their brain is literally different. In my experience, people with ASD want what we all want -- to be treated with respect and given a chance to succeed. They grow and develop in the same way neurotypical people do, but their perception of those experiences may be more abstract and troubling. My hope is that we can all practice caring and compassion when engaging with ASD individuals.