April 10th – Autism Awareness Day. I know I’m a little late but it took me a while. My apologies. 🙂
Dear Special Child,
I remember the first day I met you in the school yard during my first teaching practicum. You ran, you screamed in glee, you played with your friends – to an unknowing and unaware eye, you were just a normal child having fun during recess time.
To an unknowing and unaware eye, you were just a normal child having fun during recess time.
I then found out from an Education Assistant, when you walked into my music classroom with her trailing behind you, that you had Autism Spectrum Disorder, a disorder I’ve only heard and known about in lectures, but never encountered in real life. To be honest, I was surprised. You seemed so…. normal.
At that point in time, I had a choice: to treat you with disdain and fear of the unknown, or to lavish all of my love on you and commit to helping you, and your fellow autistic peers scattered around the school to have fun, learn, and express yourselves using the most universal language the world could ever have – MUSIC.
I decided on the latter. I treated you as I would other students – I disciplined you, I cared for you, I helped you open your milk carton during lunch time, I talked to you.
In the space of a few weeks, I got to know you – the real you. When you weren’t trying to be someone others wanted you to be, when you weren’t trying to put up a front to protect yourself from being hurt, and you were just ‘you‘, you shone. You sang your heart out, you danced around the classroom, you held hands with the others in our circle of music and love, you played music games with the rest, you played instruments like a maestro, and bit by bit, you won me over.
Bit by bit, you won me over.
Sure, there were days when you frustrated your EA, your teachers, myself, and occasionally, the principal, to no end, and there were days when we simply wanted to give up on you. However, I decided to stick to my initial decision (I’m stubborn like that) – I chose to not give up on you, to continue loving you like God does, to see you and your special quirks the way God sees it, and to help you become the very best you can ever be.
I don’t know how you are going now, nor do I know where life is going to take you. But I want you to know this –
I will always do my best as a teacher to help you grow in every area of your life,
I see the ‘quirks’ in you and call them ‘special‘, not ‘disabled’,
You are loved. Always.
10 years from now, we might pass each other on the street – you may not even remember my name or my face, and I might not even remember yours. But your ‘special’-ness brought out something in me I never would have imagined was there – that protectiveness, the instincts, the unconditional love.
You helped me see me how God sees me, the quirks, imperfections and all, and you helped me realise what unconditional love is.
You changed my life in the space of 5 weeks, and I have a feeling it would last for a lifetime.
So thank YOU, my special child – YOU. ARE. LOVED.
D x ❤ ❤ ❤