Sunday, February 10, 2013

Autism at Work

Autism has always been something that has struck a curiosity in me.

The first time I ever really interacted with an autistic person was at my job I have been teaching swim lessons for five year and I have taught 5 or 6 autistic kids. Sometimes it's really subtle, and I only realized later, when I was extremely frustrated that I could get the child to focus on whatever I was trying to show him or her. Then there are the more obvious cases, like this little girl named Maria. Maria is non-verbal, but had no trouble getting all of us at the pool to fall in love with her. I had been teaching her for a couple of months when one day, I handed Maria the kick board so we could practice kicks. When she grabbed the kick board she started reading the logo and the small text below it. I was amazed. When I showed the other teacher, she just laughed and explained to me that every saturday during out lunch hour Maria would read the morning paper to her father.

During class we talked about how many autistic kids are savants at something. I am not sure if the ability to read can be considered a savant. Maria most likely didn't actually comprehend what she was reading. But she was reading these papers start to finish, and she was 6.

The link I have added is a short article about a non-verbal autistic boy named Jeremy who was not only able to graduate high school, but also gave a speech at his graduation. This story is not only extremely inspiring, but it also makes me think that children like Maria and Jeremy understand and are capable of more than we may ever know.

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