It’s only fair that I explain how Annie from Gradeschool Brains became a teacher and why she started a blog.
Working with students with Autism is what I know I have been called to do! Some days are better than others. Some days, I can’t wait to research strategies and interventions I can use with my little ones. I go nuts creating multiple projects on donorschoose.org so that I can receive the materials that will enable me to better teach them. Some days, I spend hours choosing the right book or worksheet or activity to expand on the topic for the day. Some days, I can’t believe I’ve reached my dream of educating these fascinating, unique and mysterious students! …Other days, however, I wonder if I should change careers! It’s a fulfilling field but it is also quite tiring and draining. I go home and crash!
So how exactly did I end up here?
It all started with one single video in an education class in college. I had just changed majors from Architecture to… undecided? Yeah, I wasn’t exactly sure what to do from there. Education was sort of my go to option since I had been volunteering as a Sunday School teacher for my church for many years. I figured I had some experience and it was something that I liked and that came naturally. But I still wasn’t sure what field of education to pursue. Then my professor from my “Teaching Multicultural Students” class showed a video I will never forget. THE video that changed my life for the better and led me to my calling in life. I still don’t remember what the video was called. It was the story of the family of a child who was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The parents spent a great deal of time and resources trying to get as many therapies as possible for their son- their first born. In the video, they expressed their frustrations and fears. They conveyed their challenges and joys. And just when they were coming to terms with the condition, they gave birth to twin boys who are also diagnosed with Autism/Developmental Delay before the age of 2. Yep! Not one, not two, but three children with Autism! They spent their life savings, they gave up other dreams, they dove into making life better and education more accessible for their sons. One of the many therapies that they were funding for their children was Applied Behavior Analysis. I was sold!!! From that day on, I looked up everything there was to know about Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis with gazelle intensity. Seven years of college, two Bachelor’s degrees and a Master’s later, I am in the field I envisioned my entire adult life.
But why exactly am I in the field?
Resources, resources, resources! The parents in the video lacked the resources necessary initially to help their little ones. As a special education teacher, not only do I get the opportunity to work first-hand with individuals with autism, but I also get to work with the families. I get to guide them and point them in the right direction. I get to provide support and hope that everything WILL be okay. That very part of my job is what makes my calling so enjoyable! And the reason why I am still around. My life’s work will always be providing resources and hope to families. For this very reason, I also started the Gradeschool Brains blog. I want to reach out to families and educators everywhere. Networking can often be the best resource, and is also free of charge!
Are you also beautifully entangled in the field of autism? How exactly did you end up here? What is YOUR beginning? Share in the comments below.