To my avid blog readers, I have been missing in action during the last couple of weeks because I have been preparing for my new classroom, setting up and purchasing more items. I am excited and look forward to teaching students who have autism in the Kindergarten to first grade level. I will be meeting my new students next week and can’t wait to teach them and make a difference in their lives. When I think of this age, my nephew comes to mind. My nephew is autistic, going to be in a Kindergarten class and is 4 years old. He is verbal but sometimes, it is not functional. He has been in the Early Intervention program since he was 2 years old and continues to thrive in it. With guidance and prompts, he is able to communicate his needs and wants by pointing and gesture. He expresses frustration and fatigue with tantrums but they are now less because he has made progress with his communication skills. I believe that all children with special needs including my nephew will make progress if all the skills learned are consistent across all settings. The settings include the home, the school the child attends and during Early Intervention home visits(if the child is enrolled in one). Some skills learned are social and communication skills. My nephew’s family is very much involved with his education and in his life.
My nephew likes to be tickled, snuggle in a blanket, gives hugs and likes to jump on anything bouncy (ex. bed or couch). He is lovable and has the cutest smile! I am fortunate to be his aunt. He is an angel just as all children are.
Below are pictures of my nephew. In the top row, he is posing with my daughter at the pool.
Maybe, Just Maybe, I Can Be a Voice!
This year, I am compelled to make this wish tomorrow as I blow out my birthday candles. I don’t wish for or want material things but have wishes for things that are abstract. As I write, I wish that I can think of that ONE word that would sum up all my wishes for my birthday this year. With the recent news, social networking videos of recent happenings, recent deaths and reasons for them, I have a list of thoughts, hopes and desires. Who am I? I am this one small person or an ant in this big world with no big name, no picture on the cover of a magazine, or a glimpse in a movie. I am not an author of a best-selling novel neither am I in the book of the Guinness world records. I have no power to change politics, the law or influence those who do have the power. I am but one person and maybe, just maybe, I can be a voice.
My wishes include RESPECT for people of a different race, color, religion, appearance and cognitive abilities. My wish also includes granting each person living in this planet patience, kindness, understanding and respect for the quality of all life (plants, animals and people). I also wish for each person to be open-minded and not judge, to be optimistic and not so negative, to welcome difference and change for the better of mankind and to treat one another as if they were family.
Birthdays are not a big deal! It comes each year and you just get older… But within each year are 365 days and in each day are 24 hours and you know what? … A hell of a lot can happen in a year! So, I’m going to make that wish and maybe, just maybe, I can be a voice.
So we go to a park and we discovered (read on)…
My kids are all still at the age where they all like to go to parks. This summer, I have tried to take them to different parks: some with the typical slides and swings, amusement parks and natural forest type parks. I just came back from taking my kids to a park that is a half hour from where we live. It is our first time there and after my daughter explores the park, she says, “Mom, I saw this in your classroom.” I came over and saw a big plaque with the alphabet shown with sign language (as shown below). My daughter was referring to a poster I have in my classroom which each letter of the alphabet signed using ASL (American Sign Language). It was great to see the alphabet done in sign language, clock teaching Braille and an adapted swing for children in wheelchairs.
Not many parks my kids and I visit have adapted equipment for children with disabilities or signs of special education awareness like this. It was a wonderful sight! I showed my children each letter in sign language as I have learned in college and each of my children took turns on the swing. It was educational and fun!
As a special education teacher, I can imagine parents/caretakers of children with autism who might have feelings of being overwhelmed, stress and feelings of “not knowing what to do” or “am I doing this right?” I can also imagine the constant concern, feelings of being alone but also feelings of optimism and hope by a parent/caretaker with a child who has autism. As a parent of three typical children, I have my own concerns for my children; some similar and some different but share the same love and hopes from a parent for their children.
Below are websites with stories written by various families of children/people with autism. All of the stories I read are interesting. As a teacher who will be teaching students with autism, I have become inspired and motivated to make a difference by these stories and look forward to working with children who have autism. Some stories are similar and other stories are quite unique! I’m hoping you get the feelings of inspiration, hope and optimism as I did when I read the stories. Below are just some websites that are inspiring but there are many more online. Whether or not you know someone who has autism, I hope these stories move you and help you become aware of these amazing families!