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Matthew and Me

Jennifer Toscano is an aide at a private school for children with autism in New Jersey. With 6+ years working in the special education field, Jen has been exposed to a number of unique opportunities and experiences. Jen has created great relationships with many different and complex children over the years. Jen continues to work passionately and love the children that change her life daily.

 

In 2009 a special little boy named Matthew walked into my life. Little did I know but four years later not only is Matthew still a part of my life but a huge part of my heart. I was his first aide in a new school when him and his family took the move from New York City to New Jersey in hopes for a better opportunity for Matthew. We instantly connected. I knew he felt safe with me and all I wanted to do more than anything was to help him reach the potential I knew he had. His parents who are the strongest and most loving people I know must have felt the same connection because soon after school had started they had asked me to work with Matthew privately. It was more than just babysitting an autistic boy. He was more like a little brother to me. I took him everywhere and quickly he became a big part of my family as well. Matthew has apraxia which makes it very hard for him to communicate with me. But we didn’t need words to communicate; I could understand Matthews’ feelings or excitement without one word being said. Many people would always ask, how do you know what he wants? or how do you play with him without talking? My answer was simply “I don’t know but it just works for us”. Although this has been a trying year for Matthew with an intense summer program created by his amazing speech therapist. With hard work from everyone involved, Matthew now 8 years old, is beginning to sound out a few words. He truly is an inspiration to me, he never gives up and when he makes a mistake he does not get frustrated but rather continues on. His perseverance has truly been a model for me. For someone with such adversity against him to continue trying in the manner with which he does is nothing short of amazing. As I’ve watched Matthew grow I’ve been amazed to see him evolve from a shy toddler into a precocious young boy who loves to swim, enjoy the outdoors, and displays such genuine affection. As the years pass I continue to watch him develop and I feel so honored to share such a special bond with a boy like Matthew.

Much Love Always,

Jennifer Toscano