Each day, I have the privileged of witnessing heroic efforts. I am a special educator for preschoolers on the autism spectrum. I start each day knowing that I will learn more than I teach. That I will get more than I give. That I will have more questions than answers. The learners in my class need to fight a battle against their sensory systems just to get dressed for school. Play is work. Hard work. They do not always receive information incidentally from their environment. They need to have seemingly simple tasks broken down and taught in steps. Tasks I take for granted having learned myself, or having taught to my own 2 children. The bus ride can feel like a roller-coaster. Certain noises I ignore are like nails on a chalkboard to them. All of this is BEFORE their school-day starts.
These amazing efforts do not even account for the perception of society on them. My students' parents welcomed into the world a seemingly healthy child. They made plans, assumptions, and predictions. Plans change. These families now have to face a school system to get needed services for their child. They need doctors, therapists, and specialists they never imagined being a part of their lives. At the end of the school-day, I put my exhausted students on the bus for home. They have played, learned, eaten, toileted, had therapies, and have held it all together. NOT EASY. In comparison, my day is a breeze. I get to watch these little heroes make progress. They finally look me in the eye and I cry. They pee on the toilet and I want to do a cartwheel in the bathroom. Seem silly? If only we could all walk in a young child with autism's shoes for an hour. That is ALL it would take to make us all consider their efforts and achievements heroic.
Submitted by Anonymous
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