I have a dear brother who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3 in 1979. He is a gift...someone who I learned much more from than I ever taught. My love for him, my curiosity for how he learned, the gleanings of connection that he and I shared, were powerful experiences that led me to choose teaching as a career. I am the teacher, the mother, the person I am today, in part because of the relationship I share with him. I am grateful that we as a society have evolved past our first notions of what "autism" meant, that we have thrown out that box that we put them in and realize the richness that they have, the creativity, the connection, the humanity. I was told as a nine year old that Brian would never be normal, could never be like others....I remember thinking "but I don't want him to be like anyone else-I love him the way he is...." I was told that autism meant he didn't have feelings like us, but to me, he cried when he felt pain, laughed when he liked something, and curled up beside me when he was sleepy and wanted me to rub his back. One day when I came home from school, and he had been home a few hours already, he flew out the door and ran to me-this child that "couldn't connect"--I asked him what he did today and what he said still can bring tears to my eyes and joy to my heart--he hugged me tight and said, with a wide toothed grin "Today-today I love Tammie!!" Brian has been a gift to me, and to others, I am certain. Thank you for this show-I will share it with my family, with the families that I work with, with the caregivers who spend time with my kiddos when they are not in my classroom--it is very important that more people realize what a gift they are...at the very least, as an avenue to learning more about yourself as you connect with them...but more likely, you will find there is so much more than that in store if you are open to it.
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