This post is by Sheila who blogs for Sprinkle Teaching Magic and offers a free resource for all teachers with her videos on her Youtube Page Teaching Magic. You can find this original post on her blog here.
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 worry about the weather. In a drought, will the animals suffer? You obsess.
I don’t even mind that you blurt things 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 interests. 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 that 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 a 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.