Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Teacher of a Lifetime

Audrey is only in 4th grade so it may be too early to say this, but I'm pretty sure her current teacher is her "Teacher of a Lifetime", that ONE teacher who changed our lives, the BEST thing to ever happen to our family.

Audrey has had MANY wonderful teachers no doubt.  We've developed a close relationship with each one in her short school career none of whom we'd trade for the world.  This year, however, marked a turning point and it all started with Mrs. K.

Recently our special education department asked parents to nominate a group or teacher who had made a difference in our child's life.  While our daughter has an incredible team molding public education to her needs, we felt it was Mrs. K. who had the greatest impact to date.   I am beaming with pride to announce that she was accepted for the 2014 Rise Up Award.   Here is our nomination:

Mrs. K and Audrey 2014 4th Grade
A short nomination letter cannot come close to acknowledging the inspiration provided by M.K.  She would be worthy of a novel, as it would take pages to express how important this woman is in our lives. Mrs. K's contribution to Audrey's success and triumph over her special needs could be compared to teaching a child to defy gravity. She taught Audrey to fly again, to find her wings.

At the beginning of 4th grade Mrs. K recognized Audrey's challenges right away, and worked with her rather than against her. She appreciated both Audrey's abilities and limitations - rather than attempting to mold Audrey to the classroom, she molded herself to Audrey's needs, while not singling her out or excluding the other children. In an early conference Mrs. K told us that we influenced her to be a better parent. What a shock - how could we have influenced one of the greatest teachers we had ever known? Mrs. K drew from her personal experiences when working with Audrey, and this only enhanced the teacher student relationship.

Before Mrs. K., Audrey hated school. She cried every morning and every afternoon. Because of Mrs. K., Audrey has started to look forward to school, and there are no more tears. Audrey has even acknowledged the future of her education. She is beginning to soar again - as a child should.

If you have a special teacher in your child's life, special needs or not, take the time to thank them.  Your child may be 1 of 30 in a teacher's day, but your child's teacher could be the ONE making their day!  
Mrs. K. receiving her "Rise Up" Award

We love you, Mrs. K!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The look you're not getting

One of the traits for Asperger's Syndrome is the inability to make eye contact.  One of the reasons, I believe, this to be is because of all that occurs on our faces during a typical conversation.  You are talking, your lips are moving, your eyebrows are arching, your forehead is wrinkling, you're waving your hands, and you're still talking.  To a person with AS, who typically is also dealing with Sensory Processing Disorder, this is an overload of information to process at once.  We, those of us familiar with AS, know this and typically work around the social "rule" of making eye contact.  We look for ways to teach our children to make eye contact to be more socially accepted.  We beg teachers to let our kids doodle while getting instruction so they can concentrate on words alone.  

Look OR Listen NOT Both (google images)
Even as we work on that have we ever really thought about if from the child's point of view?  Recently I came across something Audrey wrote.  It is simple and to the point and didn't offer a ton of insight, but it did put me in my place.

"I heart being nice.  But sometimes I have a tough time doing so in person.  I'm better when I can't see someone's face.  Kinda weird".  

First and foremost my heart melted because she hearts being nice!!  (I'm totally doing something right)  Then my heart broke because she sees this as "kinda weird".  Whenever one of my kids thinks they are weird or, more often than not, that Mom is weird I chant, "Embrace your weirdness".  And with my Aspie I always tell her, "wired, not weird".  She does these things because of the way her brain is wired.  Embrace that too!  Most importantly, it's for us to heed her statements.  Accept that it's tough and be okay with that.

So, my point(s) are this.

**If someone is not making eye contact with you don't jump to conclusions and think they are rude.

** Consider for a moment that this person is uncomfortable looking at you while you speak because of all the sensory information you are putting out there to be processed at once.

**If you encounter a person like this do not be afraid to ask them if they'd rather not look at you.  You aren't being rude by asking, you are being considerate and in tune to your audience.

**We all have our own idiosyncrasies; embrace the way you are wired.