This post originally appeared at http://spedblog.com/2012/04/30/spedblog-to-i-wish-i-didnt-have-aspergers-an-autismpositivity2012-flash-blog-event/ and is reprinted here with permission of the author.
SPEDblog To “I Wish I Didn’t Have Aspergers”: An #AutismPositivity2012 Flash Blog Event
I was a special education aid for two years, and then I became a special education teacher at a junior high school. I’ve worked with lots of kids, with all sorts of skills and challenges, and I’ve heard comments like “I wish I didn’t have Aspergers” many times. I’ve always wanted to say the right thing in those circumstances, but I don’t know if I ever have. Today, I have a chance to try one more time. I feel very grateful for that chance. Here is the letter I would write to one my students if they said ”I wish I didn’t have Aspergers” to me today.
Here’s the thing- I totally understand why sometimes you wish that you didn’t have Aspergers. Nobody can deny that having Aspergers comes with some big challenges. I know that sometimes when you struggle with those challenges, it makes you feel overwhelmed, anxious, or sad. Sometimes when I watch you struggling, it makes me feel sad, too.
But as a teacher, that’s where I come in. I might not always have all the right answers for you, but I do have a few things I know I can do. I can help you make plans to deal with situations that make you feel anxious or overwhelmed. I can teach you some strategies to use when talking to friends, or when interacting with teachers or students that you don’t know very well. I can talk to you about what Aspergers is, and what it isn’t. I can work with your parents to learn more about them and about you, and to help bridge the gap between home and school. I can help you advocate for yourself to ensure that all of your educational needs are met, and that you feel safe, comfortable, and happy at school.
And I can make you a few promises.
I can promise you that as you grow up and get to follow your individual interests more and more closely, school will become more interesting for you. You will find that your unique passions have an important outlet in the world, and that your knowledge and skills are useful and necessary. You will meet new people who share your interests, and who can learn from you as well as teach you.
I can promise you that there is a community of people who accept you and want to help you understand how awesome and important you are. Today, people across the world are writing blog posts and messages dedicated to conveying their acceptance and love of people with Aspergers. To read those posts and messages, click here.
Finally, I can promise you that Aspergers is a part of you, but it’s not anything wrong about you. You are incredible and special just the way you are. And you are important to your school, your community, and the whole world.
As your teacher, I want every good thing in life for you. I want every class to go well, and every lunchtime to be fun. I want you to feel happy and confident- always. I know that you face special challenges, and I am very proud of the work that you do each day, and of the person that have become. Thank you for being my student. Thank you for being you.