- Sponsorship -

Walking in their shoes

Event simulates what it’s like for students with disabilities

What’s it like for a student who has autism to take a math test?

Students at Lowell Middle School recently got the chance to experience the sensory overload that can hamper concentration for those who have the condition.

With pieces of tape across their noses and mouths filled with pieces of chewy candy, groups of seventh- and eighth-graders attempted to take a written test as a clock ticked, a door slammed, staplers stapled, pencils sharpened, papers rustled, noses were blown and a box of markers crashed to the floor.

Nobody finished the test.

“Every noise that sounds insignificant to us is overwhelming for them,” explained special education teacher Deb Greenhoe.

Eighth-grader Melanie Wade puts tape across her nose as the first of many sensory distractions aimed to simulate autism

Promoting Understanding

It was one of three simulations students throughout the school were invited to take part in as part of an activity run by students in the school’s ARROWS class, which started this year and is led by Greenhoe and English teacher Stacy Verburg. The goal is to promote compassion, understanding and friendship among general education students and those with cognitive impairments.

As part of a visual impairment simulator, students wore goggles and attempted to open a combination lock, read a dictionary with very small print and navigate through a crowded classroom.

“It makes doing stuff at school that much harder,” said eighth-grader Drew Veldman. “Or even at home, imagine trying to zip up your coat, or even eat breakfast.”

The middle school ARROWS class formed this year

They also clicked through computer screens to better understand how those with learning disabilities such as dyslexia experience school.

“Imagine what it would be like trying to write an essay, and having to type the same sentence over and over to get the letters in the right order,” said eighth-grader Courtney Witten.

Students submit applications to be admitted to the year-long ARROWS class. Seventh-grader Mason Fuentes said he wanted to be part of it “because I had trouble talking to new people.”

Said Verburg: “What I am most excited about are the relationships that have formed among the ARROWS students that have gone beyond the classroom.”

What Mason has learned from being involved in ARROWS: “Nobody’s perfect,” he said.


SNN article: Friendships break down barriers

- Sponsorship -
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio or email Morgan.


The year of learning differently

SNN asked a sampling of students from across the county how it’s going for them so far in a school year of multiple instruction models...

‘I want it to look happy’

With help from generous donors, elementary teachers worked to make welcoming, kid-friendly space while following the rules of social distancing and sanitation...

New VP says ‘It feels like joining a family’

Aaron Romoslawski is the new vice principal of Sparta High School. He takes over for Stacey Rumsey, who was named Sparta High School principal last spring...

The changing of guard – as long-time educator and AD welcomes a new one

Godwin Heights Football Coach Brandon Kimble will take over as the district’s athletic director when Robert Hisey, dean of students and athletic director, officially retires Nov. 2...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

The year of learning differently

SNN asked a sampling of students from across the county how it’s going for them so far in a school year of multiple instruction models...

District conducts contact tracing after high school student tests positive for COVID-19

On Tuesday, Sept. 1, Lowell Area Schools received notification from the Kent County Health Department that a student enrolled at Lowell High School had tested positive for COVID-19...

Education ‘a family thing’ for new interim superintendent

Nate Fowler is the new interim superintendent for the 2020-2021 school year at Lowell Area Schools. School News Network sat down with the lifelong educator to get to know him better in this edition of Meet Your Administrators...
- Sponsorship -


Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...


Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -


Maranda Where You LiveWGVU