- Associated Press - Saturday, October 10, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) - The icebreaker was simple: Choose a partner and learn three things about her. The catch: Your partner will pretend to be nonverbal.

The room full of school paraprofessionals gestured and thumped the table in an exercise meant to put them in the mindset of children with autism who in many cases do not speak.

The workshop at a New York City special-education school run was run by Rethink, a company known for its videos that demonstrate therapy techniques for children with autism.

Recent years have seen autism diagnoses skyrocketing in New York and elsewhere. There were 14,600 students with autism in city schools last year, up from 6,000 in 2008.

One student, 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo, slipped out of his school two years ago and was later found dead.

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