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ParaEducate: Acceptance, Love and Self-care: #AutismPositivity2015

By ParaEducate

ParaEducate is once again honored to take part in the Autism Positivity Flash Blog for 2015. This year, contributors were asked to consider this:

We want to know what you are celebrating about yourself, your Autistic family, friend or loved one or what you want to celebrate about Autistic community – and we think it is empowering to share the posAutive ways that we respectfully honour limits and pay attention to self-care for ourselves and for our friends and loved ones.


From the casual observer: you are trying to hide. You pulled your sweater over your head. Everyone else in the classroom is head uncovered. There might be one or two baseball caps, but you’re the one in the corner, dark and brooding.

You’re the one in the classroom who has chatted up every other girl in the classroom. They smile when you talk to them, but you haven’t figured out they aren’t really listening. However, when asked, the girls don’t mind. They get that you need to say something to someone even when it is the same five things all day.

You’re the one in the classroom who hasn’t said a word all year. And yet you’ve written this wonderful poem. You wouldn’t present to the class, but you stayed in at lunch and read it to the classroom teacher. He praised your work. You walked out the door with a huge grin that quickly turned to a scowl whenever someone mentioned how happy you were for the praise.

 

Autism Positivity 2015

You were sitting by yourself stimming in the lunch room. And a classmate came over and asked to sit across from you. You didn’t really seem to notice, and they didn’t care that you took a bite of your crackers, jumped for three minutes and then ate some more. For months this student asked to eat with you, took a seat across from you and never said a word to you. When others would offer, the classmate wanted to sit there, with you. Just last week, you stopped your pattern enough to realize you didn’t know your classmate’s name. “What’s your name?” you asked.

You had the school wide dance competition. You were the last boy without a partner. You asked a girl in another class to dance with you. She replied, “I already promised [other boy] I would dance with him for the first two dances. Can I dance with you for the last two?” You agreed. The guys in the PE class came over and were impressed that you asked her and high fived you.

You hadn’t seen a specific paraeducator since you were knee high to a june bug. She cried when you said “Hello” and chatted her up about your successes because she remembers the little boy who was curled in the corner under the bookshelf who screamed and never came out even when your parents were called at the end of the day.

You were sitting across the table at a family dinner with a family friend. You were bored out of your mind when the family friend got down to your level and showed you something in your pocket, a broken transistor. You suddenly had a million questions about all the little parts that had originally made this device work and you want to make it better, so it would never break. “Your mind and my mind work the same buddy.” was all that family friend said.

You were so excited to go on the family trip. The transportation system was late, so your parents walked a block away to a sandwich shop. But you really wanted to get back to the transit station. You almost ran into the street, if it hadn’t been for someone who worked with students with disabilities, suddenly turning around and asking you to stop. Your parents caught up and apologized.

The community you live in already cares for you. You might not know. The communities look a little different for each person. But many more things are possible with everyone working together than they would if there weren’t people working with you.


Original Post: http://blog.paraeducate.com/?p=165

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Filed under Acceptance Love and Self-care, Autism Positivity 2015, Autism Positivity Flash Blog, Flash Blog Posts

ParaEducate Expressions of PosAutivity #AutismPositivity2014

By ParaEducate

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.

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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.

Original post at:http://blog.paraeducate.com/?p=497

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Filed under Autism Positivity 2014, Autism Positivity Flash Blog, Expressions of PosAutivity, Flash Blog Posts

ParaEducate Celebrates 1000 Ausome Things #AutismPositivity2013

This post was originally published by ParaEducate, at http://blog.paraeducate.com/?p=180, and is reprinted here with permission from the author.

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We are thrilled to participate in the 2013 Autism Positivity Flashblog. Over the years we have learned so much from our students with Autism that sometimes it seems they are the teachers. What have your students taught you? 

30 Things We’ve Learned from our Ausome students…

1. Verbal communication is not a prerequisite for practical jokes and a sense of humor

2. Disney Channel bands and pop stars are really important and cool if you’re not an adult

3. Baby steps and setbacks can lead to giant leaps and growth

4. Life is not made up solely of discrete trials

5. YouTube is awesome

6.  Honesty is the best policy

7.  Access to non-fiction text is important for all ages

8. Life is better with cookies in the afternoon

9. Puberty and raging hormones are a fact of life

10. Rallies in the gym are too loud for most students and faculty

11. Good friends (and support staff) help you overcome your fears on your terms

12. Joy

13. Technology is a great equalizer if you’re given access and support to learn how to use it

14. The stuff we’re most passionate about in life can provide opportunities we never imagined

15. Sometimes the photographer has the best view

16. Miscommunications often lead to misperceptions

17. There’s a lot to learn about growing up from Toy Story

18. Down time is important

19. We all like to ‘fidget’ with things

20. The week before a vacation can be exciting and stressful

21. It’s not always easy to get back in the swing of things on a Monday

22. Forgiveness is priceless

23. The same rule can have several interpretations

24. School schedules are not always the most accommodating

25. When told not to shove the popcorn in by the handful, the best solution is to walk out the door and shove it in by the handful.

26. There’s a lot we didn’t know about history, dinosaurs, trains, wooly mammoths, and High School Musical

27. It’s fun to surprise your teachers

28. Sometimes the movie is better than the book

29. Being referred to as ‘Squidward’ is not a compliment

30. Acceptance is not something to take for granted

ParaEducate is a collection of resources for including students with disabilities in general education created by Renay H. Marquez and Megan Gross. Renay and Megan spent four years in the classroom as a paraeducator and special education teacher team. They love including their students in end of year activities, but the scheduling for it all does make them a little bit crazy! Find ParaEducate online herehere and here.

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