Saturday, 05 September 2009
These stories were submitted to me to share with our readers. They are written through the eyes of a teacher. Please enjoy and comment!
Last Night I attended the Graduation of a former student at a local High School. This student was the happiest and most vocal graduate there. He raised both hands in the air shouting victory after getting his diploma. Eight years ago his graduation was unthinkable. He was about to be sent to a residential home where he would be cared for, for the rest of his life. He was diagnosed as being severely autistic. His mother looked at different placements for him and decided on a little school, where they could contact the person in charge, the owner whenever there was a problem.
The owner of the school drove this little boy to and from school everyday because he was too violent to ride with other students. This ride was a forty mile trip one-way that she made each day. The first time I saw this student he was hiding under a couch in the office. I was there as a parent checking on the progress of my son. A few weeks later I returned to teach the children at the school soccer. This little boy was my challenge. Can you teach an autistic boy to play soccer? My plan was simple place a ball in front of him and see if he kicked it. He did. Some of you may have read my previous story about soccer.
This little boy caused all kinds of problems at the school. One day after he refused to do any work the owner decided to challenge his resolve. Whenever work was placed in front of him he was tearing up the paper and breaking the pencils. The owner called the parents and asked permission to keep him after school. He was kept after school for a long time. The owner got him McDonald’s for supper. The little boy still refused to do any work. At about nine-o’clock in the evening the little boy asked how long could he be held after school? The owner asked him what he liked for breakfast? About 9:30 the little boy decided that he would do the work.
I started teaching at the school the year after my son went back to regular High School. This little boy was a member of my first class. He was still stubborn. He did as much work as he wanted too. I had the advantage of knowing that if push came to shove he would do the work if only to avoid being kept after school. The question in my mind was not would he graduate from high school? The question was did he want to graduate from high school. The answer came two years later, when he requested being returned to regular school.
The school worked out at his IEP that he would start regular high school one period per day. At the end of the first semester the transition was half of a day at regular high school in a special education class. He started tenth grade in a special education day class. After a couple of months he tested out of the special education day class. He joined the wrestling team and was on the honor roll.
I was there at the graduation with owner of our school. I was given three big hugs by the graduating senior. None of my hugs were as big as the one he gave the owner of the school after he had his diploma. He came rushing across the field at us and nearly tackled her while giving her a hug. The graduate stated that he considered the owner of the school his third grandma. I met that night his grandma’s and a Lady from United Parents who had worked with his parents for many years. Everyone was amazed at the progress the graduate had made. Me, I was hoarse from cheering when they announced his name to come up and receive his diploma.