I was speaking to my brother tonight and he asked me about what I do within my classroom and how each student is different and unique and therefore I need to be provide an individual program, unique to them. He asked me why I have chosen to work in a field that is so challenging and time consuming from a work perspective.
Why? I can provide you with such an easy answer...because I cannot imagine NOT teaching these kids. I'm touched every day by their brilliance, determination, inspiration, humour, love and overall humanity. These kids are so 'real' in a world that can often miss the truth of what is really important.
I came by this work by accident, but in actuality it was serendipitous. For connecting with these kids, my life has been changed. I've watched in frustration as I've seen kids who are completley brilliant not achieving their potential. I watch in dismay as we continually focus upon what children cannot do, rather than what they can do and yet we keep doing the same things over and over. What is the saying, "if you continue to do the same thing over and over, this is the definition of insanity".
The key to any child achieving and learning is success. These kids must achieve in any way possible....so it is up to teachers to be creative and create learning environments that provide this for the kids: use their interests, use technology and most of all focus on what they can do!
I have been blessed this year to have been given Ipads in my classroom. I have one for each child and I've designed my entire curriculum around their use, including literacy, numeracy etc. I've had a number of parents come to me concerned that I'm going to neglect "traditional" ways of learning. But what if traditional ways of learning means their child fails every time? For example, I've taught kids who are 12, 13 who still cannot hold a pencil to write their name; but they can type it on the ipad. Why would I insist on these kids holding a pencil, failing every time; when they can achieve success, write their names and feel good about themselves?
We have to accept the paradigm of education is shifting and needs to shift. It is no longer about the "three rs", times tables, spelling bees etc. This may still work for some kids, but not for all. Our kids are in a technological era; they face technology no matter where they go and what they do; on train stations, shops, local library etc etc. So many childen who have disabilities can't perform simple tasks, but they sure know how to turn on a computer and if this is what interests them and what they achieve success with, then we MUST use this.
At the end of the day it is about your child reaching their potential and many children with disabilities, especially Autism are only scraping the surface of what their true pontential is! I work with these kids every day and I see the brilliance; I see the potential; I see the wonder in these kids and as I've said many times previously, I am forced to face myself and change my view of the world.