I know it has been an extremely long time since I have posted anything to my blog. I have been a little busy…well, not just a little busy, but overwhelmingly busy and all for a good reason. I had an experience that changed my life in ways I never thought possible.
It all started back in the Summer of 2012. I met a missionary family who had a daughter with Turner’s Syndrome. At the time, I had no idea what Turner’s Syndrome was. As I talked to the father, I came to realize that individuals with Turner’s had very similar differences as those on the autism spectrum. This led to further discussion and ultimately, a trip to Budapest, Hungary in June of 2013 with a team of 3.
While there, I feel in love with the people and country of Hungary. We met families and single parents dealing children who had autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities. We were overwhelmed by needs I witnessed for more awareness and understanding of developmental disabilities among the schools and communities. We listened with tear-filled eyes to the stories of the parents of these children who felt helpless and hopeless.
We visited a kindergarten classroom in a particular school that served children with autism who were considered more severe. The children had just finished a group activity and were led to the floor for play or break time. A little girl who was nonverbal caught my eye. She sat on her knees on the floor not engaged in an type of play. I laid my iPad, camera, and other items on the counter and for the first time in over 4 years, I sat on the floor to interact with young children on the spectrum.
I wasn’t sure if this little girl would allow me into her “space”, so I sat beside another student and engaged in play with him, all the while keeping my eye on this little girl. It wasn’t long until I saw her begin to scoot on her knees across the rug to come face to face with me. She slowly sat up and moved toward me until she was literally nose-to-nose with me.
The teachers in the room were horrified and hurried their way to move her away from me. I told them to wait and that I was ok with it. The little girl with drool running down her chin, moved to my left cheek with her lips, then slid across to my right cheek.
With her saliva running down my face, tears were filling my eyes. What I had just experienced was the traditional Hungarian greeting of a kiss on each cheek. This nonverbal little girl was communicating hello and showing respect. Her behavior spoke volumes while her voice remained silent.
This experience led to some deep soul searching and a renewed desire to get back to working with students with developmental disabilities and their families. I currently serving as Autism Coordinator in Alvarado ISD in Alvarado, Texas a town south of Fort Worth, Texas. I have the honor and privilege to once again work directly with students and their families.
We formed a Parent Advisory Committee for Autism and I must say that our parents are amazing! They took the ball and ran with it for Autism Awareness Month. They worked with the City Manager and he volunteered to “Light Up Blue” the gazebo in the town square and the City Hall of Alvarado, Texas!
Everyday has been full great surprises as they inform me of their accomplishments to work together for the good of our students on the spectrum! I know without a shadow of any doubt that I am exactly where I am supposed to be and where I want to be. I appreciate the acceptance that I have received and the opportunity to serve along side them. I love Alvarado ISD – Administrators, Faculty, Staff and most of all our students and their parents!