A Standing Ovation

As a speaker and teacher in the field of Special Education, I know firsthand how professionals and caregivers touch the lives of children with autism:  Special education teachers, paraprofessionals, and general education teachers; speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, art, music, and other special area instructors; psychologists, behavior analysts, early intervention specialists…all of them teaching important skills that help each child fulfill their promise and to be successful.

I came across this video of a young man with autism participating in a school talent show, and it moved me. This child isn’t in the national news for scoring a basket, or winning a science fair. He’s just belting out a pop song with joy and enthusiasm. His talent is clear, but it was the mother’s comments that hit me.

Mom posted the footage of her singing son and credited his music teacher for making it possible. He started music lessons at three, and in music he found joy, enthusiasm, confidence, and a means of self-expression…and everyone who watches him knows it!

Speaking and training all around the world, I meet teachers and related professionals everywhere who strive to be the best at what they do. They spend a great deal of time and money honing their skills, filling their professional tool boxes, all to help our kids learn, develop, and grow.

We live for these moments of success and triumph, the times when a child breaks out in joy.  One of the most memorable times for us was when Alicia, (who would never sing for us at home) performed a solo for her elementary school talent show that earned Alicia, her teacher, Ms. McDonald, and a super paraprofessional named Mrs. Alaina Casha a standing ovation.

Whenever I present for the first time in a new area, I always end my workshop with a clip of my older daughter Kayla, a gifted vocalist, performing at a talent show. I follow it up with this video of Alicia singing and there is usually not a dry eye in the house.  Beforehand, I ask the audience if I can sneak in a few short closing clips of my own kids, simply because I miss them.  The truth is, I can and do watch that video often, but I really use it as an opportunity to thank those in attendance for all that they do for our kids.

Keep the positive momentum going for educators and parents alike.  Please share stories of your child’s successes and let’s not forget to give a standing ovation to all those special people who help make it happen.