The Beauty of Thinking Differently


Mrs. Howard

The LINKS program goes on numerous field trips throughout the school year. The program is made up of 70+ students.

Olivia Schelling, Co-editor

 Humans are all unique in their own way. Everyone is different, and that’s okay. Humans were programmed not to be the same as the person next door. Evolution plays a huge role in this. If humans evolve through the years, everyone is bound to be a little bit different. 

  April is Autism Awareness Month. Now, this month is not to shed a slight light on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) that will soon be forgotten. This is a month to bring the spectrum into the spotlight and show the world how normal it may be. ASD Awareness Month is characterized around bringing inclusion and the best possible outcome of life for all humans with this ability. The Autism Society of America defines ASD Month as celebrating neurological differences among everyone.

  Autism is a complex, lifelong developmental disability that typically appears in early childhood and can impact a person’s social skills, communication, relationships, and self-regulation. Autism can be defined as a set of behaviors and is considered a “spectrum condition” that affects all people differently and to varying degrees. Unfortunately, there is no known cause of Autism, but an early diagnosis can be beneficial in the long run. 

  “Being on the spectrum does not mean we have some ‘superpower’ like most people were often told. Sure, we see the world a bit differently, but at the end of the day, it’s still the world that everyone else lives in. Just because we’re a bit different than you, doesn’t mean some of us can’t have the same interests as everyone else. We’re all human, in the end, we make mistakes, we get hurt, we all cry. If you meet someone with Autism, try and have a conversation with them, and if you happen to have a common interest, good news! You just made a new friend who will talk your ear off about said interest! We love talking about our special interests, and most of the time you can’t get us to shut up. Just be patient if they don’t talk to you at first though, it can take us a bit to warm up to people,”  

— Avery Zann

  Grand Ledge High School offers a Peer-to-Peer class, LINKS,  to help kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder with daily school tasks. This class is monitored by Mrs. Howard. General education students involved with this class are paired with an ASD student for one hour to help with the completion of work, note-taking, modeling how to act, and so much more. 

 “The program is designed for an inclusive model so that everyone is having an authentic high school experience,” Mrs. Howard commented. 

  The goal of the LINKS program is to develop tolerance and acceptance within the general education population. It also teaches general education students about students with ASD and about specific information about classmates with ASD. General education students in the LINKS program work with ASD students as role models, being inclusive and modeling what it is like to be a teenager. 

  Autism Spectrum Disorder affects all students differently. People with ASD may fall anywhere on the spectrum. 

    “I don’t know how to describe it because everyone is different. We all behave and learn differently, and because I work with all different types of students it is sort of indescribable.” Mrs. Howard stated. 

   With this being said, students throughout the school may have ASD, and others may not even know it. 

  “Having Autism can be challenging at times, and can impact everyone differently. For me, it makes it difficult to interact with people” Sophomore Avery Zann remarked. “I constantly don’t know how to respond to questions or certain phrases, and often take things literally. I tell people my most honest opinions, not knowing that it could hurt them in the process, and sometimes not understanding how I hurt them. It’s also difficult for me to understand jokes or sarcasm sometimes, and I often have to ask people to explain what they mean.” 

  In the future, Howard hopes to see the LINKS program grow. She wants to be able to teach young adults life skills and to keep building inclusive interactions with all students. 

  LINKS and friends put on a spirit week at the end of April for Autism Awareness. The days included crazy socks day, tie-dye day, western day, Disney day, and green shirt/autism awareness shirts. Ending spirit week, LINKS and friends will hold a sensory-friendly prom for students with disabilities. This is a way for special needs kids to enjoy the joy of dressing up and attending a school dance. 

  Prom 4 You, is the sensory-friendly prom put together by the GLHS LINKS program. This prom will include Waverly High School’s LINKS program. Prom 4 You will be held May 1, 2022, at Hidden Creek Farms in Charlotte. 

  April is not just a month to raise awareness of students and people with ASD, Autism needs to be recognized every month. Students should take a moment to recognize their differences and celebrate them! 




  Most people associate Autism with a puzzle piece. The puzzle piece is supposed to show the complexity of the spectrum. However, there is a lot of controversy regarding the puzzle piece. To some people, the puzzle piece may seem like a missing piece to a puzzle, almost like people with ASD are incomplete. 

  “We mainly don’t like the puzzle piece symbol because it was made by Autism Speaks, which is essentially a hate group who think that [people with ASD] need to be ‘fixed.’” Zann mentioned.  “We also don’t like it because it essentially means that there is a piece ‘missing’ from us like we’re broken because of something we were born with.” 

  Due to this conflict, humans with Autism came up with a new symbol, the infinity sign. The infinity sign is meant to show the entire spectrum. It represents the neurodiversity movement, which includes both neurodivergent and neurotypical people. This indicates that neurological differences are a natural occurrence in the world. 

  “The rainbow infinity sign was made by autistic people, for autistic people. It basically means that the spectrum is infinite and that everyone is different. It means that autism is filled with diversity, that it doesn’t matter what anyone’s race, gender, sexuality, or ethnicity is, they can still have autism,” Zann said. 

  The infinity sign is meant to include everyone. It allows the spectrum to come together. Autism is a normal occurrence, not a missing piece. Differences are okay, and everyone is unique. Remember that.