The Person Who Made Me Realize Those Outside the Autism Community Could ‘Get’ It, Too

IMG_20140825_082322609 Since the day my son was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, assuming the role of advocate has been nothing short of exhausting. While the professionals (most of them) “get it,” attempting to help others understand can be stressful and frustrating. Recently, after three years, I’ve found someone involved in my son’s life who not only understands but is willing to educate herself in unfamiliar areas of autism. A teacher. A fabulous, caring, compassionate, remarkable woman who’s my son’s first-grade teacher.

Too often people outside the world of autism struggle to understand what it’s like to live in our world. Living with a child on the spectrum is exactly that… a different world. Most of the time people really don’t “get it.”  So many people are quick to make assumptions and judge autism spectrum disorder (ASD) families — especially when they’re out in public. Without awareness about autism, it of course seems as though my child rolling on the floor through the aisles at the grocery store is just a bad kid. Others may not be aware of the painful stimuli (bright lights, noises, etc.) that have become too overwhelming for our child in that moment. As an ASD mom, I’ve learned to brush off this harsh reality and continue to raise awareness to those who are willing to listen.

Collaborating with professionals can be very tedious. Always trying to keep everyone on the same page (in a world that’s constantly changing) is draining. There are so many little things to make people aware of. I’ve found that a lot of my free time is spent making phone calls, sending emails, preparing documents, etc. It’s only natural to want this time to at least be somewhat enjoyable, right?

My son’s teacher has done just that. She’s made this “free” time enjoyable for me. You see, professionals are supposed to communicate and work with the parents to help the child. General education teachers, while professionals in their own field, are certainly not autism experts. They don’t have to look outside the realm of general education. There are plenty of teachers who are rigid and aren’t willing to think outside the box. So when a person goes that extra mile to understand my son, it makes my job as advocate that much easier. That in itself is enjoyable.

My son loves his teacher. When a child comes home from school and talks about his/her teacher nonstop, it’s safe to say the teacher is making a difference. To me, making a difference is what life is all about.

My son’s teacher has shown me that there are people in this world who are willing to listen. People outside the world of autism can take a step back and just simply watch. Judgment is not all there is to people who are uneducated about the outside world. For that I am forever grateful.

I’d like to publicly thank my son’s teacher. To let her know I appreciate her making my job as advocate effortless. For reaching out, for educating herself, for her willingness to listen and for going that extra mile. Most important, I want to thank her for touching my heart and the heart of my boy.

Thank you for “getting” it.

What a blessing this journey has been.

This post originally appeared on Open Your Box.

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