To the teachers who have students with special needs,
I hope you realize the impact you have.
Growing up with autism, I had unique learning challenges. I didn’t say my first word till I was 3 and was officially diagnosed at 4. Because of my limitations socially, when I first was just starting school, it would take a few years before I felt comfortable enough to speak up in my classes. This led to limitations in teachers truly getting a sense of my learning style.
I was lucky enough though early in my education to have an amazing 1st grade teacher who helped push me to not be defined by my autism diagnosis. She ‘taught the way I learned’ and without her support, and later down the line, the support of many other teachers during my journey, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Her ability to focus on my weaknesses, but also at the same time nurture my strengths, made for a positive learning environment.
For the teachers reading this that as a former student who is now an adult, that you can make a similar impact with your students simply by meeting them where they are in their development.
I today am a professional speaker and author who has overcome many of my obstacles that used to hinder me growing up. Now I even get to give talks around the world in the schools to help both students and teachers! One topic I discuss is what helped me growing up with a learning disability. Whenever I sit down with teachers when I visit one of these schools I like to tell them, just like I’m writing in this letter to you today, that you have the power to make a difference in your students lives.
Find what works for your students, encourage reward systems when possible and please remember to give positive reinforcement when you can.
You can do some truly amazing things for our special community.
I hope you know that.
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