April is Autism Awareness and Acceptance month. This is something that is now near and dear to my heart, however it has not always been. I wanted to spend today to introduce myself to my new followers and share why I became a special education teacher. It is not your typical "I knew I wanted to be a SPED teacher since I was a child story..."
I actually never even thought about being a special education teacher until college. Ever since I was a young child, I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher. I think it was the combination of coming from a long line of teachers, to the movies that glorified teachers to my joy of working with kids. I knew I was going to be a teacher, and I knew I was going to be a GOOD one! Halfway through my college credential program we had a visitor from a different credential department give a presentation in one of my multiple subject credential courses. He peaked my interest because he kept emphasizing how MANY sped jobs there were available. (REWIND 6 YEARS- and we are in the biggest layoff time period for teachers in California). I was in the generation of new graduates who could not get a teaching job other than the typical day to day sub job. I decided to pursue a dual credential as a "back up" to my dream kindergarten job. I began my studies and was amazed with the lack of knowledge I had in the field of special education. The night before I started student teaching I got sick. I was nauseous. Nervous was an understatement. I was completely and utterly terrified. I was not scared of the students, but I was terrified of the unknown. What if the student's did not like me? What if I didn't fit in? What if I look foolish? It was not until my first day of student teaching where I really had the opportunity to interact with a child with special needs. It was my first day of student teaching where my life completely changed. I mean this in the least cheesy way possible, but stepping into that classroom was like stepping into a new life. Those students changed me on day one. They gave me the gift of knowledge, enlightenment, awareness and most importantly acceptance. I'm not going to act like I knew what I was doing as the teacher or even what to say. However, I felt a sense of comfort and security and it was the best feeling I could have asked for. 6 years later I am still learning. I will continue to grow and learn as an educator to give the best that I can to my students. I want my students to have the world and to beat every limitation that has ever been set for them.
So in short, Autism Awareness Day is more important to me than it ever used to be because I used to be one of those people who lacked the knowledge and awareness of Autism and the affects it can have on any individual. While I was raised a respectful and kind child, I lacked the awareness. The unknown can be intimidating. It is with a heavy heart that I celebrate Autism Awareness Month once again because I want to inspire those around me that may not understand the challenges individual with Autism face on a daily basis. I also want to shed awareness for the wonderful support families, parents and siblings of people with Autism provide on a daily basis as well.
Together we can spread awareness.
My good friend Christine has spent some time to write a fabulous blog post about how to spread awareness. I could not have said it any better myself. Please click below to see how you can spread awareness yourself:
I have linked together with some of my best Special Education Teacher friends to give you an AWESOME opportunity to win some grand prizes. Enter the raffle below for a chance to win 8 ready made products that will be shipped RIGHT TO YOUR DOOR! Yup, no printing, laminating or assembly required. Together we are teaming up to spread awareness this month.