Thursday, August 6, 2009

Summer School

"Autism is about having a pure heart and being very sensitive… It is about finding a way to survive in an overwhelming, confusing world… It is about developing differently, at a different pace and with different leaps."
~Trisha Van Berkel

Imagine that you have something to say, but no way to say it.

What if you felt emotions, but had no way to convey them?

Perhaps you needed or wanted something, but were unable to communicate your desire.

For so many individuals in today's society, the above problems present themselves on a minute by minute basis. Can you begin to fathom the frustration of trying to exist in a world that isn't quite cut out for you?

Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that having an autism diagnosis can mean suffering from severe intellectual disabilities to being profoundly gifted. Some autistic individuals are extremely loquacious, while others can barely, if at all, communicate. Many autistic persons seek self-stimulating behaviors, such as finger tapping and arm waving, yet others crave rigid routines that must not deviate from the expected.

Over the summer I had the distinct pleasure of working with a group of children who are identified as autistic. Like I mentioned earlier, autism is a spectrum disorder, so what works for one child, does not necessarily work for the next.

I spent time with four children. None of them could speak. One could use basic sign language on a forced basis. One could use a Go-talk communication device to identify colors and numbers with an accuracy of about 40%. One used a Go-talk with rather reasonable success and one child never spoke or used sign.

Working with these children proved one of the best, most fulfilling activities of my summer. It was interesting to note that the same children who were unable to verbalize their most basic desires could still experience hurt and love and happiness and sadness.

Never once did I hear, "Thank you," or, "This is fun!" However, it was the gentle looks and the overwhelming sense of trust and understanding that develop through patience and kindness and sincere caring.

I also learned that having a disability does not meaning having an excuse. These children thrived when pushed to their potential. Perhaps that was one of the biggest lessons for me. These children don't want a way out, they just want a way-- and it was my awesome job to help them find it.

May all of my little lovelies be blessed.


Maria said...

You are an amazing, beautiful and gifted person. Thanks for seeing the beauty in everyone and everything AND for bringing out the best in all that you meet.

I am blessed to know you.

Greta said...

:) What a gift you are and what a treasure to see the good in the lives of these angels and not the negatives that"our world" often does view them.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...