When I took my job teaching children with autism, I didn't know what I was getting into. I have been punched, kicked, bit, drooled on, sneezed on, held snotty hands, changed messy diapers, been peed on, and experienced an assortment of other less than desirable situations. And yet I've never left work feeling like I never wanted to go back. That's the silver lining to everything. Despite the less than desirable moments, there is so much good that was in each day usually in the smallest and most seemingly insignificant moments. These are some of the lessons I've learned.
1. Patience beyond human belief
2. How to connect with another human being without sophisticated words or thought
3. That autism, or any other disability is not a death sentence for a unfulfilled life.
4. You're never too old to hold hands.
5. Sibling love transcends all disability; this I learned from watching the siblings of my students interact with their brothers and sisters.
6. The previews in the movie theater are too loud and it is OK to cover my ears.
7. Running water of any kind is absolutely beautiful and fascinating.
8. Sometimes you just need to yell.
9. Learning to tie your shoes isn’t all that it is cracked up to be.
10. IQ scores and labels do not define what a person can do on a daily basis.
11. I need a lot of sensory touch (massage, back scratch etc) before I go to bed.
12. Giggling is contagious and so good for everyone.
13. Playing with kids means your jeans will get worn out.
14. Eye contact is a beautiful thing.
15. Getting or giving a high five can feel so good.
16. Music creates universal joy.
17. Chewing gum will always calm me down.
18. A peaceful walk in the woods can cure just about anything.
19. Get a good night’s sleep, it makes the day so much easier.
20. There are no perfect answers.
Since working with children with a disability, it is so easy to get caught up in the challenges and the needs and the “what ifs”. It’s easy to always think about what that child needs to learn or what I needed to teach him next. At first I was always contemplating how to help my kiddos fit into our world and it is only recently that I have begun to want to know how our world can learn from them.