By Lorry Myers
He wouldn’t look her in the eyes or even acknowledge that she was beside him. When the teacher asked her new student a question, he would shriek and flail his arms turning his head to hide his face.
She has seen this before.
Christopher came to my daughter’s classroom with no verbal skills and no exposure to a school setting. His father told the new teacher that Christopher’s mother had bailed and grandma had moved in to help. He worked two jobs and the doctor bills were piled up but he was doing the best he could. He knew his son needed help but he couldn’t give it.
He was hoping the new teacher could.
My youngest daughter is a passionate teacher and strong advocate for children diagnosed with autism. Her classroom is small and every one of her eight students had a Para-professional by their side. Each student has different needs and different strengths and my daughter loves putting the pieces of their puzzles together.
This is her dream job.
Every day, Mariah slipped a log book in her new student’s back pack so Dad and Grandma could see what Christopher had done that day. Each Friday, she summarized the progress of that week and what the next week would bring. In the journal Christopher’s father read that this new teacher was going to start using sign language with his son. The boy could only screech and roll his eyes, could he really understand and use sign language?
No one had ever tried.
Monday morning, the sign language sessions began. The teacher was not surprised when Christopher was intrigued. Over and over pictures and words were repeated, simple words like thank you, more, drink and eat. Hands and fingers moving over and over day after day. By Friday morning there was still no reaction from Christopher and my daughter was beginning to doubt herself when suddenly there it was…the moment when the switch flips on and the dawn of understanding lights a child’s face.
The moment a teacher knows that everything has changed.
Christopher understood and now that he had a voice, he needed the words to go with it.
For the complete column, see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard.