Today is World Autism Awareness Day 2013. I am not going to make any sweeping generalizations about people with Autism, nor will I give you the definition of the disorder, because you will be able to find it everywhere online today. Instead, I want to take a moment and remember the many kids I’ve met over the past 8 years I’ve been working in Special Education. In all that time one idea has remained: all anyone wants to know is that they are valued and important.
To the kids who are non-verbal, but communicate in other ways, you taught me how to listen. You showed me what it means to listen with more than just my ears, but also my heart.
To the kids struggles to understand their social surroundings, you taught me what it truly means to accept my individuality. You have taught me how to define myself by nothing other than myself.
To the kids with aggressive behaviors, you have taught me what it truly means to shed blood, sweat, and tears for the sake of education. You have taught me what it takes to truly get to know and understand a student.
Autism is a mysterious, and remarkable disorder, but those who have it are still individuals. In the same way that ten people who have broken their leg may have cast on but act different because of their personalities, ten people with Autism have the same diagnosis but also their own personality.
I have met many students with Autism over the years, and their impact in my life has been profound. I thought I was helping them, but I believe that they have taught me more than I know. You should take the time to get to know those in your community who have Autism and other disorders.