In our schools today we need to teach the way our students learn.
I know there are a lot of individuals in our community, especially educators, who want to know what’s going on in the mind of someone with special needs. Growing up, I went from getting kicked out of 2 pre-schools to transitioning to 3 different public schools and than having to fight our school system to get me out of district placement for middle school and high school.
There’s still a great deal of education that needs to be done in schools today and I wanted to share, looking back at my experiences in school. As someone who was once nonverbal and has autism here is what I’d share with educators today…
- We are always a person first before you even discuss our disability.
- We are not defined by labels. It’s what we do and who we are that defines us.
- Although we have challenges we also have things we love and are good at.
- If you’ve met one individual with special needs, you’ve met one individual with special needs. We are all unique. Teach the way we learn.
- When we struggle, the worst thing you can do is to feel sorry and look down on us. Help us find the solution when things get tough.
- We will take advice from others but most of the time our perspectives are so vastly different we may have to think it over before agreeing to it.
- Some days may be vastly different than others. Accept the fact that sometimes there won’t be a blueprint of what happens on a day-by-day basis. Just go with the flow and try the best you can.
- As much as we want to be aware of who we are and what we do, we also want people to be educated and accepting of others.
- If we seem shy at first don’t take that as us not wanting to be included, we may just need more time than others to feel comfortable.
- We all want to be loved in someway. Although some of us may never want to be in a relationship, and/or never want to get married we all have things and people we want to show compassion for in our lives.
- Accept that you may never know the struggles going on inside us. Than, accept that we all have our inner struggles in our lives regardless of special needs. Regardless, show empathy and compassion always.
- Even though we have a disability we still revolve around our strengths and interests. Always remember that.
- Although we may not be able to express and/or communicate our feelings at times toward our loved ones that doesn’t mean that we don’t want you around. On the contrary, when times like that happen we may need you more than ever. Just remember we love you even when it’s not said on the surface.
- We hate to be stereotyped as “one-size-fits-all” disability. Also, we hate when you think that the only people we can be around our those with similar disabilities. Give us opportunity to stretch and figure out who and what works best for us.
- Finally, no matter what, we all serve a purpose. Play to our strengths while always helping us with our weaknesses along the line.
Currently today 1 in 5 Americans has a disability. Be educated. Be aware. And please be understanding of others. As a society, will be much better for it.
Kerry Magro is an international motivational speaker and best-selling author who is on the autism spectrum. A version of this blog originally appeared on the website of Kerrymagro.com here.