In May 2014, ParaEducate suffered an entire blog meltdown. As a result, we lost many of our former blog postings. We were lucky to recover this thanks to participating in the Autism Positivity 2014 Flash Blog.
For the second year in a row, ParaEducate is proud participate in AutismPostivity2014. This year’s blog request was to focus on positive stories about Autism. Renay H. Marquez, Co-Founder of ParaEducate and a paraeducator, has chosen to share a personal story of Autism.
The story starts nearly seven years ago. The young man I was working with was sitting with his case manager going over the new topic: Disability Awareness. Unlike other times, this student did not have to fear any other student leaning over and learning of his disability. The classroom was empty. I was just in the room that morning.
And he didn’t make eye contact with her. He had the conversation that was his homework assignment with his parents: “When did you know I had a disability? And what happened?” A young man knowing he had been different all this time but now his fate seemingly sealed in this box that had been originally labeled “Hope” with all the dreams that he and his parents had always spoken about for his life. Now the label was tattered, frayed, and all but removed replaced with the word “Autism.”
And then we move this story to the last two years. When I had become the voice of comfort for some close friends hearing that their boxes of Hope for their own sons was seemingly changed by the confirmation of “Autism.” And then watching them stand and not know what action to take to be able to take that next step.
And what I had to say to all the parents I’ve come across, I said to my friends:
You love your son. You have always loved your child.
Autism is the name for the stuff that you always thought you really had a hard time loving.
Autism is not the end, it is only a beginning.
And if you remove the word from the box, you’ve ignored everything else about your child.
You love your daughter. You have always loved your child.
Knowing what it is called won’t take away any of the fears or worries. Some of them are transformed, but you can’t ignore the reality.
And once the fog had disappeared and been replaced by the series of changes the family will have to get used to, none of this will seem so foreign. And you have a different family story to talk about around the table about the way your family became one.
Now the boys’ world is a little different. I can point out who are successful with and without disabilities and none of that matters because they are all human. And ultimately, this is the lesson I need the boys to learn above all else. Remind the boys of the truth in the fragility of humanity. Remind the boys that others have the right to their humanity as well. Remind you that we all come to that understanding at different places just as we are all growing up in our own time. Not on a time table based on a date of the calendar. There are times when the boys will “just get it.” There will be times when they forget it. They might know the name of the reason why they have to work so much harder, and there might know be others who know why the boys have to work harder. But the boys aren’t alone. The boys have me. The boys have their respective parents. The boys have the mountain of other people who I have introduced to them also living with Autism.
Now, the young man in the beginning of our story, he’s now 20. He happens to be going to college. There are other young men and women who have had the same story told to them. And they’ve dealt with it differently each growing in their own way, some of them went to college, some of them are holding down jobs. You’ve met some of them. You didn’t know back then when I knew, before your parents knew. You just saw gangly legs and arms, a few unkempt teenage mustaches, and a bright smile. You heard some forced greetings. You know you fit there with these students. And your path will be there for you. Because while Autism veiled your parent’s original hopes, Autism and Hope were really sitting side by side on that box.
ParaEducate’s Blog will sign off for the summer on May 28, 2015. Did you recall this entry from 2014? Are you interested in participating as a Guest Blogger for ParaEducate? Do you have a question for us? ParaEducate just joined Pinterst! Find ParaEducate online here, here, here and here. ParaEducate is company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published weekly during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.