One of the Coolest Parts of My Job

Among my students, I have one who is not capable of doing the work when his class comes to me each day. At the beginning of our time together, he didn't talk to me much, but I caught little snippets of his speech and responded to them. For instance, he said a line from a Wiggles song over and over (yummy yummy), and I sang some of the lyrics and his face lit up. My comment to his teacher "I think he's trying to tell us he's hungry". They got back to their classroom, crackers were offered, and he was happy.

I brought my iPad to school to occupy him, and this was a smart move. He enjoys it, so we're both happy. His current favorite is the Charlie Brown Christmas app I showed him. One day, I forgot the iPad at home and handed him my phone, which is in a blue case. Yesterday, the iPad died while he was using it and he came up to me and tugged on my shirt and said "blue iPod?". He was excited that I realized what he wanted and handed it over.

A lot of times, it is assumed that kids who are on the lower end of the autism spectrum fail to communicate when the opposite is really the case-they're communicating, and we're not opening our minds to the many ways that this can be achieved. My student and I have developed a bond, and I look forward to my time with him. It may be mutual, because he's starting to come give me back my devices with a hug at the end of class.

As well as the direct interaction, I get to see the progress other students make. One girl in a class across the hall likes playing the piano in her room. At the beginning of the year, it was obvious she didn't speak very often-but she had an amazing ear for music. Tonight, we had a Christmas event at school, one where she bounded up to our director, loudly said "Hiya, Mrs. A" and went over to the piano to play and SING Christmas carols.

The first week of school, you could have told me this was going to happen and I would not have believed you. It is amazing to watch the progress our kids make in such a short amount of time. The best part is getting the front row seat to the transformations.

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