I can’t believe it’s already April, which means it’s Autism Awareness month. For the record, it is always Autism Awareness month in my speech room, but for this month, we get a bit more of the spotlight. I choose to use this time to show how the recent revival of Carousel taught me to better understand my students on the spectrum.
The show is a story about two truly different individuals that even the whole town considers to be quirky. This made me think of the way my students are seen by the people in their lives who may not understand everything about their worlds. It takes a lot for me to step outside of the world in which I view my kids, so this can be tricky. My kids can be viewed from obsessive to single-minded, talkative to mute, docile to aggressive. Like Julie, currently played by Jessie Mueller, I view all of my students as beautiful.
There is a reason for every behavior and action my students show me. Not all communication is verbal, and I find their expressions beautiful. Stepping into their worlds for as long as they’ll allow me is a gift. I cherish it every minute I work with them. I’ve learned more from these children than I’ll learn from most adults. I learn about the beauty of numbers, technology, and verbal and nonverbal communication between children. The reciprocity and value and strength of words is all theirs, and from the simplest requests to the most complex explanations, I get to view it all. I get to understand them, and this is not a gift afforded to all.
This week, I challenge you to learn something about yourself or someone else by experiencing something new.
Keep playing with words and see what your message creates!
–Stef the StageSLP