Thursday, May 3, 2012

Autism Awareness

My oldest son Aaron is a freshman in high school. He is incredibly smart, funny, loves to read, and he is autistic.

3 years ago, after years of fighting for Aaron's best interest, my husband and I decided we needed to move him to the school district where I teach. I love my colleagues and I knew in my heart that it was the best thing we could do for him.

What I didn't know was that Aaron believes it was the best thing we did for him. That is until a few days ago when we were talking and he shared with me that he likes school now. When I asked him why he told it was because of his 6th grade teachers. He told me that they helped him with his problems. They taught him to control his anger and how to be a part of a group. He was so happy that he had been able to participate in group activities for the first time. He also said that 6th grade was the first time he made a friend.

I was overwhelmed with emotion when he told how he felt. I was so happy for him that he finally felt like he belonged. But it also broke my heart all over again to think of how hard he worked and how long he struggled to get to this point.

Hearing him express his gratitude for his teachers made me so thankful that he was able to have these amazing women in his life. That's when I decided that I was going to do something a little different for Autism Awareness month. I wanted to make the teachers Aware of the difference they made in an Autistic child's life. I wanted them to know that their high expectations and the time they took to teach him how to interact appropriately in a classroom environment changed his life.

So I told my son that his 6th grade teachers would love to get a letter from him and hear how he is doing now. He was amazed that they would be interested in how he was doing but was excited to write to them. Now Aaron is a man of few words so I was shocked to see that he had written over a page long letter to each of them. Next, I baked some cupcakes and made puzzle piece toppers. {I also made a puzzle piece wreath for us to hang up at home}

Then, I wrapped up the cupcakes and put them with the letters from Aaron.

Finally, I wrote a letter to each of them sharing my appreciation for the difference they made in my son's life. They simply treated him like he belonged and in turn made him belong for the first time.

I am so thankful for all of the fabulous people who take the time to treat others with kindness and respect regardless of their disabilities. You are life changers!