Thursday, February 26, 2009

I have a secret, that is not really a secret

My best friends know this well. My family finds it amusing. Acquaintances have absolutely no idea. It is a thorn in my flesh/ immense blessing that has changed the entire course of my life, how I view human beings, and how I see myself. It is not a closet obsession with The Secret Life of the American Teenager, although that is true too.....

Its just that in the deepest parts of my soul, I find immense love and purpose in people with disabilities.

I didnt always feel this way. In fact, when I was in high school I did this ridiculous segment on the morning news called "Joke Time." Broadcasted to the entire school, my friends and I told jokes about whatever was relevant. They were usually incredibly clever, like "What do you call a seagull that flies over the bay? A BAYGULL!" I know. I have a gift. Dont be surprised if you see me on Saturday Night Live.

Anyway, once I told an incredibly offensive joke about "retards" and had to apologize on air after it got a very negative reaction from most of my teachers. My face turned bright red when I walked into my math class and my teacher reprimanded me in front of the entire class, and spent the next half hour lecturing us on the value that people with mental disabilities have to the people that love them and how much it hurts when other people make fun of them just because they have a disability.

Fast forward 6 years. I have been teaching kids with autism, downs syndrome, and mental retardation for two years. I had a God-breathed epiphany one summer which changed my mentality about people with disabilities from eh, ho hum, dont really care, to OH. MY. GOSH. I WANT TO SPEND THE REST OF MY LIFE ADVOCATING FOR AND LOVING ON KIDS WITH DISABILITIES. I WANT THEM, AND EVERYONE ELSE, TO KNOW THAT THEY ARE MADE IN THE IMAGE OF GOD AND THAT THEY ARE VALUABLE, INCREDIBLE HUMAN BEINGS.

I have another year before I will have my degree in Special Education, but I spent the entire year last year teaching in a self-contained Autism classroom. Now, I am co-teaching a class of kids with a variety of special needs, and I can honestly say that I have never enjoyed anything more. Really. There is a student in my class named C. He has autism, which in his case means that he has "abnormal" social skills even though he "looks like every other kid," whatever that means. He also astonishes me on a daily basis with the things that come out of his mouth. For example:

Me (asking about another teacher): Does she believe in God?
Mrs. S: Yes.
C (not even looking away from his computer, but with a huge sigh of relief): Phew! Good Thing!
Me: What do you mean?
C: I think God would be pretty upset if she didnt believe in Him!

Me (after a discussion on friendship and love): So, who do you guys love?
"Fuzzy": High School Musical 3!
M: My dog
E: My friends and family
C: Everybody. Everybody in the whole world.
Me: C, why do you love everybody?
C: Because everybody is a child of God, and He made them.
L: Thats so dumb.

Something equally adorable/convicting happens every few minutes in my day, and man, oh, man, how did I get so lucky?


Jessica said...

very cool reflection,'s fun to read your thoughts. You are a gifted writer, and it's clear, you are having great experiences as a teacher. God wired you that way.
Pr. David on Jessica's 'puter

Chelsea Robbins said...

cute post.
I can only imagine what it would be like to teach that class for one day!

Rebecca Louise. said...

I am glad that you find such enjoyment with these amazing children. I used work for a disability charity and we would take them to theme parks, swimming, horse riding etc. They were in awe and I was in awe of them. Disabilties as a topic makes me think how selifhs many people - incl me sometimes - can be. Thank you for the reminder, Allie. Have a lovely weekend xxx.

Becca Call said...

ahhhhhhh every day in that room we see Jesus i freaking love it :)