I was always told that there could be two schools on a street. One could be a private school, with well behaved kids and it paid really well. The other one would have the worst behaved kids and horrible pay. I would choose to go to go to the second school.
I always liked challenges. From an early age, I liked figuring out problems. Not math problems or building things, but people. My house was, let's say, not the most functional. I do not want to speak ill of the living. I had a brother with a drug addiction and a brother with autism. My father had bi-polar, probably autism as well and my mother has OCD and anxiety. I did not escape this genetic conundrum unscathed, but that is a story for another time.
I grew up learning how to deescalate people. From an early age I learned how to diffuse fights, and help when my brother would temper tantrum. He would try to bang his head and cry endlessly. He was verbal. I felt a responsibility for him. This was nothing my parents did. When he was born I went to the hospital and I held him. This was the first time I held a baby. I did not hold my other brother, due to the fact that I was much younger when he was born.
I felt such love for this tiny human being and I vowed to protect him. I helped him with homework and took him to so many places, even in college. My friends and I would take field trip to the zoo with Todd, so we he could endlessly pet the cows.
I tried my best to be a friend to my brother when he didn't have any and I tried my best to empower him to be an adult. It was not always perfect, but he was the training ground for my future career. I have been teaching for several years now. I would say I have a relatively successful career. It was not always honey bees and sun kisses, but I have learned so much about my time working with children with special needs.
When I was younger, before I entered the field, I laughably thought I knew so much about autism. Today I know I have learned so little. I learn every day something new about my approach and it is very true that you meet a person with autism you have met one person with autism.
I have often gotten questions about what educational area that my brother is a savant in. I always felt quite put on the spot to justify whether my brother has an extraordinary talent. The truth is he doesn't, but he is still completely awesome. I have written two drafts of a book about him, I hope to publish one day.
He inspired me to take my skills to the next level and become a special education teacher. I know that this is not a typical passion. Many may just see it as a career choice or a job. It is so much more. You need a passion to work with children with special needs, not just autism, but any of it. Since I have started my career I continually learn more about what I thought I already knew.
I am very grateful for my experiences. I have met so many talented people in my field and so many awesome kids. I can't wait to see what the future holds and what I will learn.
A year ago both my children were diagnosed with special needs. My son has ADHD and my daughter had OCD and anxiety. I was not entirely prepared for this to happen with my own children, but learning what I have through my brother and career I now know I am more prepared than I thought.
I have to take things one step at a time, but each step gets easier as I go along. This passion I have for education is more then just a passion. It is my life. I look forward to teaching and helping students with special needs for a long time. These children do not have disabilities. They just have a different way of looking at things. It is like looking through a kaleidoscope when you look into their minds, and it is pretty cool.