Changes

I am optimistic, I believe in the greater good and I truly believe that each of us can change the world one small voice at time.

Why are you trying to teach them social skills, you know you can’t change the world right?

Seriously though, it gets to be discouraging when those around you shoot you down. When those who are supposed to work with you don’t believe in the change you are trying to create. Yet still I strive to be that change. Our kids don’t always get the social requirements of society. They don’t always understand that you cannot laugh at another person’s lack of knowledge or mistakes. This skill must be taught. Whose job is it to teach it? Is it solely the parent’s? No this is part of an educator’s job, we must teach the hidden curriculum to our students with autism and similar disabilities.

It is useless at this point in their life to try and teach that skill. They will never get it.

If an educator truly believes this of a student, even if they are 18- 22, then why are you doing this? Why did you take that job and commit to helping these adults succeed in the world. Why are you here teaching them employability skills and training these individuals to become a functional part of society rather than committing them to a life in an institution?

They have gotten by this long just let it go. This is how they get along with each other. It is their normal interaction. They identify themselves as “ESE KIDS vs. Regular Kids” You cannot change that.

Your negativity pushes me to try harder. To prove you wrong. I may not be able to do it alone, I’m sure not going to do it in a mere 16 weeks, but if I plant the seed and you continue to water it and support that growth for the next 2 – 3 years that these students are with you I assure you there will be a change. I promise you that you can be part of the change that all of us are asking for.

You’re a great advocate, but you are too idealistic. You need to realize that this is what you get and you simply work with where they are.

Is there a reason that being idealistic is bad? Is there a reason that demanding a change, demanding that our students are given better is wrong? Is it because I am a new teacher, well technically still a student, that I am not jaded by the system?

You might answer yes to those questions but the truth is no I’m not all that new to all of the red tape of the special education world. I am giving my students, possibly your child or your niece, nephew, brother or sister, the same type of chance and education I want my own two children to receive. I do not want a teacher that does not believe that my children can do better. I want a group of professionals that see the untapped potential and will fight for them. I want a teacher that advocates for their students both in the classroom and out in public on outings.

I am not green enough around the ears to think that in my short 16 weeks with this group of students I will make huge monumental changes, but I am realistic enough to know that if the seed is planted and nurtured, these 10 students will be given the best education and chance at life after school they can have.

I am the voice of the change I want to see in the world. I am doing the things I want to be done for my kids for other students. I am idealistic, I am an advocate, and I will make a difference in the life of my students. 16 weeks is a pretty short time span, but it is long enough to show these students that I care.

What do you want? A teacher who doesn’t believe a change can be made, or one that will fight for your child and make sure their untapped potential is being accessed every day.

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I remember

I remember meeting my first two best friends. One lived right next to me, her father was the Minister at the church I went to and her mom was my Sunday school teacher. The second lived across the street from me. I lived in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. With both of these girls, our parents were friends as well. While I have since lost contact with one of the two girls, I remained friends with the one who lived across the street from me. She was a bridesmaid at my wedding in 2005 and my father just attended her wedding in May. 

I look at my lil advocate with her best friend, they have been friends since they were two and a half. Even though we do not live right down the street from her and they do not go to the same school their friendship continues to grow every day. 

I took my kiddos to the park today. It’s such a different world between my oldest and my two younger children. I watch them play, but by themselves. Lil girl is oblivious to the others around her. Lil man can’t connect with kids they way lil advocate can. While we were at the park, Lil advocate came up to me and asked me “Mommy, why doesn’t Buggie have friends? Doesn’t he want them?” In my heart of hearts I know both of the younger two children want to have friends, they want to be invited to birthday parties and be included but they just don’t know how to interact. I try to use these moments as teaching moments. Today I couldn’t do it. 

This question came after I had to talk to Buggie about not pushing other kids out of his way when he wanted to get by. We talked about saying excuse me instead of growling. Of course someone laughed at him when he growled which set him off. Mommy kept her cool because these are kids and not adults, but tried to calm my lil man down. In the process of this, lil man was swinging on a bar and used that forward momentum to kick me in the stomach before flapping and growling at me. 

Today I remembered all of the childhood friendships that I had growing up and those that have stuck around through our children’s hard times. I got angry at what autism has made harder for my kids, and i mourned the fact that friendships with peers will never come easily to them.