Friday, March 7, 2014

Dear Child with Autism...


Dear Child With Autism-


You brighten each and every day.  You may not know this but I look forward to school because of you.  I know school is hard.  Every day I see the worry on your face.  School goes quickly.  Daily changes throw you off-course.  You worry.  About yourself.  You cry because you have no friends.  No one invites you to their birthday party.  You worry about the weather.  In a drought, will the animals suffer? You obsess.  

I don’t even mind that you blurt out.  I walk in your shoes.  The idea explodes to the surface and you can’t contain it any longer.  I am patient and smile.  We will work on this.  At least you have interest.  At least you participate.  At least you are taking a risk.  

You have talents and wisdom far beyond your years.  I don’t think you realize this.  That is my job.  You have enthusiasm for science, word play in poetry, and mythical creatures.  I can’t teach creativity and passion.  You got it.  Others may brush you off. There he goes again.  I smile.  You were given a window into this world that not a  lot of us have.  You have the power to get so wrapped up in what interests you the rest of the world disappears.  

Throughout the day students see how special you are to me.  I model how to treat you with respect and dignity.  I model how to talk to and appreciate you.  Your classmates observe and follow my lead.  The classroom wouldn’t be the same without you. There would be a void.  Too quiet.  Too blah. We need you in our patchwork.  I see your classmates look out for you.  I see protectiveness grow.  We are a unit and team. We have your back.

You have your days when the tears come fast.  When you blink rapidly and try to stand strong.  These are the days when you have missed the social cues.  Social cues.  Little things we take for granted that are land mines for you.  I assure you.  I remind you of powerful affirmations you can repeat. Take deep breaths.  I listen and help you to navigate the confusion.  I try to provide the best Cliff Notes I can so that in the future, an encounter with your peer may come easier.  

Thank you for your honesty.   Your bluntness. Thank you for coloring outside the metaphorical lines.  Thank you for being in my class.  My heart has grown so fond of you.  You push me to be a better and more patient teacher.  You push me to develop new and innovative ways to meet your needs.  You make me laugh.  There are times when you say things and I shouldn’t laugh.  But I can’t hold it in.  You make me laugh so hard that it echoes off the walls of our classroom and fills the hearts of all my students.  My mission every day is to make you smile.  You approach life with a furrowed brow and seriousness.  I make little silly sounds and shoot funny faces just for you to see.  I send you a wink.  If I am lucky, for a brief moment, I see the glimmer in your eye.  Maybe we have connected.

I am your teacher, and I will fight for you every day.  I just see you. Thank you for being you.

Love,

Your Teacher




33 comments:

  1. Thank you for framing the possibilities of teaching students will special and sometimes challenging needs and abilities, in such a positive and inspiring way. Great thought-provoking post.

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  2. Beautiful! As a family member of an autistic child and a teacher, this touched my heart. Thank you!
    Alison
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

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  3. So beautiful, thank you for sharing.

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  4. As the mother of 2 autistic children and a teacher, this letter really touched my heart. We have had a really tough year with teachers that are not understanding and do not appreciate what my little man has to offer the world.

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  5. I love your blog! I nominated you for the Sunshine Blogger Award. :)
    Preschool Wonders

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  6. What a beautiful letter. As a parent of a child with autism, I am moved to tears. I pray that all of my son's teachers feel this way about him. That child is lucky to have you as his teacher. I've reposted this on my blog & credited it back to you. ~CourageandCoffee

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  7. So beautiful. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Forwarding to my son's teacher now. She has been so wonderful to him and this letter is I how I believe SHE feels about him.

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  8. You just described my son, exactly. Thank you and I love you. I too am going for my Special Education license and I want to say, you inspire me!

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  9. Dear Sheila,
    I was so touched by your letter. I am posting it hoping that one of my son's teachers will see it. Thank you for being you.

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  10. Dear Sheila,
    I just wanted to tell you how wonderful your words are. I wish that all teachers had the patience and the compassion that you have for your students. My grandson is Autistic and has such a hard time socially that it just breaks my heart. I so wish that he had people in school that care the way that you do.
    Thank you for being an example to others.

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  11. Your letter brought me to tears. Thank you for understanding our children. Thank you for seeing abilities, not disabilities. I wish we had more teachers like you.

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  12. This rings so true for me. I have a student this year with Asperger's, and I feel all these things for him. Impressed with his gifts, protective of his self esteem, vigilant modeling for others as well as him to foster better social interactions.

    My husband has Asperger's as well, though he was only recently diagnosed so his teachers never understood him, or how to help him. I'm glad we as teachers know what we know now; it's so important to understand in order to appreciate. And I too sincerely appreciate both of my Aspies. :)

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  13. WOW! I can only hope and pray that the teachers of my 6 year old sister can be as understanding and compassionate as this! So beautiful!! Thank you thank you! Found your letter on the Autism Speaks website link through Facebook! So inspirational! <3 ~Shalana

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  14. It seems that our 2 year old son might have autism. He can not speak a word and is very behind in his fine motor and social skills. I can not help, but cry and the beauty of every word you said and I hope our son meets people are wonderful as you in his (long long long) lifetime. <3 Bless you.

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    1. *at... He has therapy 3 times per week, so I am hoping he can grow into one of these colorful little children as well. :) I would thank God if he blurted out any words, as of now, because I just want my son to be able to communicate his feelings to the world, no matter how unique!

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  15. Thank you for being such a wonderful person. My son hasn't had a single friend or teacher like this since he was 3...he is now 9 and I have pulled him out of the schools this year to homeschool because the past 6 years have been such a terrible experience. I wish more teachers could see my son this way instead of seeing him as a disruption to punish and send away from the classroom. He is delightful, very smart, but easily bored, struggles with writing, does not accept arbitrary authority and marches to his own drum. All spelled trouble for the current school system's approach. Bless you for seeing the children who color outside the lines and seeing them with love.

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  16. My kid is not having a great year with his teacher, reading this gives me hope that there are teachers out there who understand, care, and work to bring the best out in children. Thank you.

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  18. It was like you knew my son! I sat here crying because this is what I go through everyday. As a teacher myself I can appreciate them also because I know how hard it can be for them. My son currently has a teacher who doesn't understand and wants to be rid of him. It is hopeful that maybe he will get someone awesome like you next year! Thank you for your words!

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  19. I absolutely love this. I hope it is okay that I shared it on my webpage for my parents to read.

    http://www.teachloveinspirecreate.com/mrs-serras-blog.html

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  20. Hello, I am trying to reach you for a story about Autism Awareness Month. I am a reporter at the FOX television station in Cleveland, Ohio. My phone number is 216-432-4089. Thank you! -Mark Zinni

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  21. And I cry. You're already an amazing teacher, and here you show your heart and the true care and passion. You're a model for many to strive to be... But like you say, passion can't be taught. It's you.

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  22. Oh my goodness, you just brought me to tears! I have printed this letter for my granddaughter to read. She has aspergers. fortunately, she is extremely high on the autism spectrum but it is so difficult for her at times. Her father and I are raising her and she is in a special classroom at a wonderful school. There aren't enough teachers or schools such as the one you teach and the one my granddaughter attends! AlI I can say is thank you and God bless you!!! from my amazing Gracie's proud grandma!

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  23. You have no idea how much I needed to "hear" this tonight. Thank you so much! Wishing all the best to you and your students :)

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  24. this is my son exactly he just turned 18 and i believe his kindergarden teacher opened up the world for him she was wonderful just like you this just brought me to tears my son has been very very lucky to have all his teachers feel exactly how you do i thank you so so much for being a wonderful teacher and an example to others.

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  25. I wish all teachers could see the abilities in special needs students. While my child does not have ASD, she has significant emotional and social issues and teachers pushed her aside for many years. While she is in a great school now with teachers who understand her challenges and see what she CAN do, it has impacted her self-esteem terribly. I still get angry when I think about some of her past school experiences when I was called to come pick her up because she is not behaving.

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  26. The KW Short Hills, NJ House Tour raises money for teachers like this one. Autism NJ's Classroom Resource Kits are for you for OUR children. To purchase a $25 ticket or for more information about the tour go to www.RealShortHills.com.

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    1. House Tour is May 3rd, 12-3. www.RealShortHills.com

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  27. Sheila,

    Thank you for who you are. Your letter and sentiments are priceless. You see, I have Asperger's. I know about this condition first hand, both through my own experiences, as well as those of the children and adults with whom I have worked and continue to work. "Thank you for being you." That's a powerful sentiment. In fact, it is the most meaningful sentiment one can experience. Your students are extraordinarily lucky to have you as their teacher. Because I experienced outright hostility, I no longer teach; I miss my students with special needs terribly. Fortunately, I have found a new niche in the social services field; through the wonderful agency I work for, I can still care for children and adults with many types of cognitive disabilities. Like you, I love working with this population, one with which I connect readily.

    I have featured your wonderful letter in my WordPress blog, but I urge my readers to go to your page and read your letter for themselves (it's dlberek.wordpress.dom). I cover issues in child welfare, as well as the rights of persons with disabilities. I have dedicated my blog to my hero. Janusz Korczak. This noble man spoke about unconditional love for the child – taking joy even in a child’s most difficult moments. You exemplify what Dr. Korczak was thinking when he wrote “How to Love a Child” and “The Child’s Right to Respect.”

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  28. This should be a must-read as part of every teacher training program out there. As an autism parent and special ed teacher, I applaud you and the light you bring to your classroom. Too many teachers tolerate rather than celebrate children with special needs. We need more teachers like you who embrace and appreciate ALL children and who have a sense of humor and love about them.

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  29. Thank you for your wonderful letter. As a parent of a child with autism/ADHD your letter rings so true. I wish there were more teachers out there like you.

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  30. As a parent of an autistic pre-schooler, your words give me much hope that he will find people like you when enters the uncertain world of typical classrooms. Thank you so much for spreading so much happiness.

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  31. so inspiring. i'm a medic and work with children with special needs such as autism. thank you for reminding us (in such a beautiful way) how many things we can learn from them and how important they are. thank you for being you! :)
    Gabriele (leletrim@gmail.com)

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Sheila Chako
Sprinkle Teaching Magic