Today as I was driving to work, I started thinking about all the reasons why I love what I do and why I choose to do it. When people see me with what I call “love marks” (i.e. bruises, scratches, etc.) and ask me what I do, the initial response is generally the same. “Oh, bless your heart!”, “Wow, that must be so hard?”, “You must have a lot of patience!” or “Do you like that?” are the general themes of people’s responses. How can I not like when a child who rarely initiates verbal interaction comes to me and says, “Hi Ashwey!” In that fleeting moment, we are connected. How can I not like the look in that child’s mother’s eyes? So I thought today, instead of telling people “I work with children with Autism”, I’m going to start telling people what I really do.
I teach children.
I give parents hope that eventually their 12 year old will be toilet trained.
I get to see the look of pure joy in a parent’s eyes when their child says a new word, and I get to celebrate.
I get to see that same look turn to sadness as they realize they may never hear that word again, and I get to console.
I make kids laugh, and I let them cry.
I make a very confusing world tolerable for children who deserve at least that.
I give rewards, and I get rewarded.
I give consequences, and I see change.
I give support to families who struggle daily with the activities we take for granted.
I play with children who were never supposed to “interact”.
I help people understand that these kids DO have emotions, can play, like hugs and want to be talked to.
However in the end, these children give me more than I could ever give them. They inspire me and give me hope. They make me laugh and cry tears of joy and amazement.
I thought of all these things and I thought, “Do I like this?” I do, I love it.
— Ashley Carter