Awhile back I watched the movie Temple Grandin for the first time. I had heard of it before, and heard how amazing it was, but for some reason I’ve never watched it. It is an incredible movie that so beautifully portrays Autism and how it affects those who have it and their family and friends. As the movie ended, I was reminded of my passion for working with individuals with disabilities.
Here’s a clip:
In the clip Temple says,
“They knew I was different, but not less. No I had a gift. I could see the world in a new way. I could see details that other people were blind to. My mother pushed me to become self sufficient.”
I LOVE THAT! That is how I feel about those with “disabilities.” They have incredible gifts and they have been put on this earth to teach us “neurotypical” individuals about love, patience, and the deeper meaning of life. My view for such individuals has always been that they are taking in everything around them. They hear us, their spirits understand us, but they just can’t communicate things back to us the way we communicate with each other.
Just because a child cannot verbally speak does not mean that he or she isn’t taking in or comprehending what is happening around him/her. As I have worked with those with disabilities throughout my life personally and professionally, I have gained so much and learned so much from them. I once heard those with disabilities referred to as the teachers of life, and I agree so much. Those with disabilities most definitely see details and have perspectives that the rest of us are “blind to.”
However, it is not just them teaching us. They have limitless potential to learn and grow as well. My passion for teaching and helping these individuals comes in helping them and pushing them to become self sufficient in whatever way possible to whatever extent possible. We are all dependent on others for getting our needs met, but many physical and daily needs for those with disabilities must be met by others. And that is why it is even more important that those individuals do learn some skills to help them function in the world we all live in. That level of self sufficiency is going to look different for each person.
For someone like Temple, the independence level is high and she can take care of her basic needs, and can even drive. She holds a Ph.D., and is renowned all over the world for her accomplishments and successes. However, for my niece and nephew who have severe cerebral palsy and can’t walk or talk, that independence is shown in using hand signals to indicate a yes or no response, giving them some autonomy and control in their lives. Regardless of how it looks for each individual, any amount of autonomy and self sufficiency boosts self esteem and lessens the burden for a caretaker.
It is my goal in working with individuals with disabilities to love and respect them and let them know that they are needed and important. Their life matters and they can stretch, grow, and accomplish hard things just like the rest of us can. Even though it may look different for each individual, there is no limit to what any person can learn and achieve, regardless of brain function and neuro-development.
As an educator, I want to help each individual reach their full potential which creates happiness and self efficacy. That is the goal of New Spring Special Education Services.