Autism - noun - a variable developmental disorder that appears by age three and is characterized by impairment of the ability to form normal social relationships, by impairment of the ability to communicate with others, and by stereotyped behavior patterns
^as defined by Meriam Webster's online dictionary.
Wouldn't it be a better world if that statement were fully true. Is it true? Yes, absolutely. Is that all that autism is? No. Not in my little experience.
Just because a school is labeled as an autism spectrum disorder school also doesn't mean every student there is going to have a (correct or most prevalent) diagnosis of autism. Many of the students have emotional behaviors that far out weigh their autistic tendencies. Some days I am so frustrated and exhausted that I want a sensory break to bang my head on the wall and scream. Yet something inside me reminds my crazy un-restful soul that they are just kids. Some could be found in the Children & Youth Services database. Some have great families. Some have lots of siblings and some only have a few. Some are above their grade level academically and some are years behind. But at the end of the day they are just kids. Normal high school kids that want to do some of the normal high school kid things. They have crushes; and boy do they fixate on those crushes :) They are hormonal. They want to drive (scary thought!) and they want to go to prom. They want to fit in; belong; be head of the pack. The boys showcase their "manliness" in an attempt to over power the others...sound like a small football team yet?! 9 boys and 1 girl....10 in all. It's so easy to forget they are just kids yet. Sure, 19 is "technically" an adult...but experiences differ and he's not ready to be an adult yet. He still needs people to care for him.
Sometimes I forget this. Sad to say, but I think that was our problem the last two days. I had forgotten that at the core of my teaching belief; the foundation; the reason why I come every day; is the belief that all anyone really needs is a little bit of forgiveness, a decent amount of individual attention & quality time, and a whole lot of love. Because at the end of the day, do any of use want anything less than that? Why would my students not need those same things? Today, today I will remember that first and foremost God has called me to love them. Not to fix them; not to be harsh with them; not to constantly correct their autistic behaviors....but simply to love them as they are. Encourage them and provide a safe environment when there isn't one anywhere else.
I feel very overwhelmed in this new world that I find myself in. I love my job. I am so thankful that in a few weeks I will have my own classroom to decorate, arrange, and teach in. I don't know if the overwhelmed feeling will be more or less then.