zondag 3 april 2011
My Autism Puzzle
I survived April Fools day but not unharmed. A plastered (without me noticing!)a cut out fish on my back and then someone on Twitter managed to make me believe something that was rather 'impossible' to know. P analysed that Tweet in a nanosec and then started to LOL and then I felt so stupid for a nanosec. But at least some people got the crack out of naive Stallie.
Can I perhaps call in as an excuse that I was so tired of dragging along 9 attention demanding kids? Stallie was so happy that she had survived that project day at work without having to call in the SWATs but I was tired out by 4 pm. I even had fun and this even with having to put up with group #13. I can tell you that felt a bit like a curse on a Friday and this on April Fools Day. But yes, I had fun!
It are these days that I do feel at a my best as a teacher. I then need a bit more cheering to come lose but once I start to run and start to cheer for a pupil to make that meet it feels so good. The high five you get from a kid and the very sincere smile that flashes into your face can make you forget all the bad moments you experienced the last weeks.
Okay, some will still need to be cheered on a bit more because they seem to know only one sentence:'I can't do this!' 'Hey, come on you have still not tried. So we try together and then we can see if you are not able to do so!' I can tell you that surprisingly enough most kids need that extra encouragement. It is not linked to a certain handicap.
I bet that most of us have used or will still use that sentence once in a while. So do I. I even used it a few times on that special project day but I then came to think of the fact that I first had to try and then call it the day. Yes, on these days you need to be more then just a teacher who tries to get some facts across or teach them something about the world out there. It takes then more then a piece of chalk and a grading system to motivate them and make them do something extra.
Teaching special ed is to me still every day a challenge. When I gratuated as an English teacher I felt that this was something I truly wanted to do. I did not wanted to end up in an averge classroom filled up with teenage kids who are just meeting up with the puberty monster. Nope! It seemed that I needed something extra to be the best teacher I could possibly wanted to be or at least try to be.
So about 14 years ago I walked into a very special world, a world that changed everything that I had so for been thaught about education. Because that year I was given the opportunity to get into the world of Autism. 'If you can teach those kids you will be able to teach most kids out there!', this wise-looking principal told me. For a second I was in a panic. Because I had not expected to meet up with kids with Autism in a school for hear impaired kids.
But then it seemed that he gave an extra oppportunity to get close to something I did only knew from one single movie:'Rainman'. And that was about an adult so I had never in my life met a child with autism. So opportunity knocked on my door! And I decided to open that door but it was for sure with a shaky attitude!
In one year I got to learn so much about the world that I live in and the stuff I take for granted. It was strange to experience suddenly that not all of us seem to be able to tackle successfully many 'normal' actions. On top of that I suddenly became aware of how many 'stuff' we just undertake unconsciously. It was this group of lively and at the same time 'mysterious' kids who thaught me some very important lessons about life.
In my work environment and in my social life I do now meet up with Autism daily. I can not imagine a world without. In a way it has given me so much more then I hoped for. Not that is all milk and honey! Nope!! There is not a cure out there and there are no magic spells or potions you can use. In my honest opinion there also not exists something as the typical 'autistic' child or adult. We are all unique human beings. We all come along with our own personal manual. But these ones hide them very well. It is like they prefer to play hide and seek instead of just handing over everything on a silver platter.
The last decennia the word of Autism seems to be more present in most layers of society. When I get e-letter of educational publishers at least one book will be dealing with Autism, there are more and more specialists out who want to help you out, you can sign up for workshops almost every week if you want to, if you google the word you will need an other life-time to get through all the hits that show up on your screen and even on Twitter there are some amazing links to be found dealing with this subject.
For someone who wrote her final dissertation on social skills and autism I must say that the awaresness of Autism is booming. But is the world of today an eassier world for people with autism then at that time? Well, I can't tell. Even for 'normal' (what is in word?) functioning people it seems that this globe became a bit more complex to understand. So what must it then be for these kids and adults?
Stallie loves her job and when I find out that one of her pupils is dealing with autism her heart does open up. Not that I feel sorry for them. it is not compassion that I then experience. No, it is something I just can not put my finger on. These kids are my daily wake-up call they are keep me focused and sharp. They point out to me that there is so much more then meets the eye. That it is hard work to make it work and to let it make sense.
Yesterday, on the 2nd of April, it was World Autism Awareness Day! I don't know if you have been aware of it? I don't think so. Most people with Autism don't walk around with that word printed on their body or wear a t-shirt telling you that they are 'special' and need special treatment. Most kids I know dealing with autism try to hide it or are putting into practice the tons of survival techniques they have been thaught by mostly non-autistic adults!
13 years ago right after graduating from college someone said to me:'Seems that you have picked up a lot of stuff in your special ed studies but I wonder what you have picked up from your pupils?' I stood there and then it hit me that they had thaught me so much more then I could ever wish for. They still do and they are not even aware of it! So, right here & now I wish to thank all the people (of all ages and sizes and colors and cultural backgrounds) for what they have given me... THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART!
P.S.: Puzzle pieces are the perfect chosed symbol for Autism. In a way we all are trying to put together our own puzzle. How many pieces have you already picked up of your own puzzle and put in the right place? Well please be so kind and don't forget to once in a while pick of piece for someone dealing with Autism! Their puzzle might be the key to your much more inspiring puzzle!