Teaching From The Heart: How Having Autism Does Help Make Me A Better Educator

All my life, I have always waned to work with young children in the classroom, especially with young children with disabilities. I myself received special education services growing up and am on a mission to help provide the same services to children that helped me become who I am today. I was diagnosed with autism at the age of two and didn’t start speaking until the age of two and a half. In elementary school, I began to develop anxiety disorder and a learning disability and struggled with attention. I had trouble focusing in middle and high school. I have also struggled a lot with my social skills. My parents have been told by people that they do not know if I will be successful or not, but they always knew that I will be successful and can beat the odds. I love and trust my parents, and they were correct. Despite all of these setbacks, I did beat the odds and have proven that nothing can stop me from being on a path to pursue my dream. Some school personnel didn’t know if I would be able to graduate from high school with a standard diploma. Well guess what, I did it! It was uncertain I would be able to graduate from college with a bachelor’s degree. Well guess what, I did that too. It was uncertain if I can have a healthy relationship and get married. Well guess what, that has also happened and my husband and I are living happily together with our sweet cat that we adopted from the local humane society. I am now a teacher assistant at an Early Head Start center in Utah working with high-needs children from low-income families and children with special needs. I feel that having autism helps me be successful with teaching young children with disabilities as it helps me see their needs from a different perspective, as I can relate to them as I too have a developmental disability, in which I view as a different way of thinking rather than a “limitation” or a “disability. My autism makes my teaching style unique as it adds character and a distinct personality when working with the children. I feel that whenever I interact with children, they sense my animated personality as well as my natural demeanor of accepting each child for who they are individually. I know each child’s special interests and personalities and embrace each child as equal. I have always believed that education starts from a young age and that tolerance, social skills, kindness and acceptance are just as big of an importance as core academic subjects, such as reading and mathematics. Without these personal traits, it is often hard to be successful. There is so much no-so-good-news that the last thing we need is intolerance and exclusion. I feel that I have experienced a lot of this myself and it has made me a stronger person instead of bringing me down. I feel much of this adversity has built up resilience in myself and has made an impact on how I help the children I work with become resilient as well. Although the children I work with are very young, with many still in diapers, they can still learn resilience as resilience helps overcome trauma and adversity one may be facing. The early years are the most important years to become resilient and to educate about acceptance of individuals with disabilities.  Not only do I educate the children, but they also teach me as well. I hope to get the message out to more and more people about my message. I aspire to become the head teacher someday and always want to remain in the classroom on the floor with the children because I have always believed that makes the most impact as an activist, and I am an activist. I do not sit on the sidelines and wait for things to happen, I make things happen. The children look at me each day and look up to me as their superhero to help change the world. Many people may not realize this, but these children are going to be the next generation to make an impact in the world and we have to help them foster their skills, which is what teachers do. Autism doesn’t stop a child from pursing his or her own dreams or being successful. That is just a mindset. It comes from the heart and only the sky is the limit.  Hopefully one day there will be no labels or barriers. I can see one day where inclusion classrooms will be the norm and more individuals with autism being employed and going to college. I know the future is bright for individuals with disabilities and I can feel it. 

From A Child’s Perspective

Growing up with autism has made me have the ability to think on the level from the perspective of a child who has autism.

Dear Teacher,

I know you already do a lot of work, and teaching is no easy job. However, I have something you may want to know about me: I have a disability. I may be a special needs child and my needs may be greater than other children, but I still love to learn. You may sometimes wonder if you are doing enough to support my learning needs and worried if you are doing things the wrong way… but please, don’t worry!! You are putting in great effort to help me learn and grow. You are the most powerful superhero I know. You believe in me and other children with special needs. You help make us become champions so we can make a difference on others just like you do. I like how you believe in us and it’s important to keep believing in us, because we will keep showing you how incredible your superpowers are and the influence it had on us. A disability is not an inability, it is just a different ability, an ability in which we do things a bit differently. We want you to keep doing the amazing job you are doing to help us someday beat the odds and have jobs that make a difference to the world just like you do to us.

Sincerely,

Child with a Disability

Overcoming Employment Statistics

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. This is a great concept, however, we need to take more action than only just spreading awareness. Although many efforts are in place to help individuals with disabilities become successfully employed here in the United States, we still have ways to go. According to disabled world https://www.disabled-world.com/disability/statistics/2019-chart.php, 37% of adults with disabilities are employed, while around 77% of adults without disabilities are employed. Often times, many of these employed individuals with disabilities are working part-time (not full-time) and are paid only minimum wage, or even worse, paid a sub-minimum wage. A sub-minimum wage is a separate minimum wage that some states have allowing employers to pay individuals with disabilities less. In Florida, its $2 an hour. However, efforts are being put in place to get rid of sub-minimum wages. I am thankful I am employed full-time with benefits and above minimum wage. Although I am beating the odds, I want to help others beat the odds as well.

Dear Congress:What About Disability Rights?

Lately, We have heard a lot of young people around the world protesting, demanding that their countries’ government officials take action on tackling climate change. It is not about politics, its about creating a better world for everyone, which has nothing to do with politics. Greta Thunberg is such a powerful force for demanding environmental action in tackling climate change. Yes that is a big issue, but what about Disability Rights? Although we have come a long way here in America when it comes to the rights of individuals with disAbilities, I personally feel that we still have ways to go. Just like the climate change protests, this isn’t about politics, it is about the people and is a people issue, not a political issue. Public Special Education, in particular, is very under-funded and a lot of services for individuals with disabilities are very expensive. Luckily, there are many new laws that are being created to benefit the families of individuals with disAbilities to help them have the financial support for therapies. I am telling all of you families out there of individuals with disAbilities that I am on your side. I am very vocal and am committed to changing the lives of individuals with disAbilities and making the world a better place for people of all abilities!!!

Happily Ever After: 26, Autistic and Married

Me and my Husband Anindya pose during a wedding photo shoot!
Father/Daughter Dance
Me and my Husband Anindya
Indian Attire for Wedding Ceremony
The whole wedding party

What does being married really mean? To many people, marriage means a sacred bond between two individuals who share love and joy for each-other. Getting married is often looked at as a coming of age event to a new beginning and a new life. Marriage is often on most of our bucket lists and we are all hoping for a great, long-lasting marriage that in which we strengthen it and it lasts forever. Yes, marriage can be scary, but it is the same as most new things and many major life events. Marriage is very rewarding and something most of us look forward too. However, for many individuals on the autism spectrum, marriage often times can be something “out of reach”, as most individuals with autism do not get married. There are often numerous “roadblocks” in the way of marriage for many individuals with autism. Often times, many individuals with autism who do get married do get divorced, but that didn’t stop me from marrying the man I love. My husband and I strengthen our marriage with each-other by supporting each–other and making decisions together. Together, we live a great life. The two of us, along with our jubilant tabby-cat. We don’t see ourselves as the “autistic/immigrant couple” we see ourselves as a couple who loves and cares about each-other and we are just like any married couple and just like any couple in general. I feel that at times, in my point of view as an individual on the autism spectrum, people often do not take individuals with disAbilities serious when it comes to romantic interests and relationships. I feel that society as come a long way and that many options in many areas are now available to individuals with autism and other disAbilities. However, I feel that the area of romantic relationships is often overlooked. More people need to realize that individuals on the autism spectrum and with other disAbilities are wanting to engage in romantic relationships. We have the same desires for intimacy. Most of us want to be able to get an opportunity to engage in an intimate relationship. On August 31, 2019, me and my husband tied the knot at our wedding. We had a celebration filled with food, fun, dancing and laughter and joy. It was a nice, serene Saturday evening at a western heritage living museum overlooked by the mountains. It was gorgeous and we were surrounded by family and friends. Is marriage attainable for individuals on the autism spectrum???? Absolutely!!!! People need to realize that we are all humans and almost all humans have a desire for love and harmony and that happily ever after….

So here you go!!!!!!!!!! I am 26, autistic, married and am living happily ever after…….

Trailblazing Autism Made FeedSpot Top 50 Autism Blogs

Great News!!! Trailblazing Autism is 12th out of the top 50 autism blogs of FeedSpot’s top 50 autism blogs for the year of 2019. https://blog.feedspot.com/autism_blogs

The main reason in which I began the Trailblazing autism blog was to spread the word about autism awareness and disability rights to the world and show that there is no specific way in which autism looks like and to show beyond the stereotypes often associated with individuals on the autism spectrum. I would not want to be known as a blogger, and I have no intentions on being a famous celebrity with fame and fortune (nor would I want to). Although my blogs and social media do reach out to people to show awareness, it is not the only way. Instead, I consider myself a disability rights activist and an autism self-advocate. The reason why I consider myself an activist and self-advocate is because I have reached out in multiple ways. From artwork to speaking at local events and for events at USU best buddies to the work I do with children with disabilities and the passion I put into it, I am totally an activist who wants to make the world a better place for individuals with an without disabilities to live together in love, peace and harmony.

Why I Consider Autism My Superpower

Ever wondered about being a superhero? I have always been interest in superheroes since I was very young. I have always loved going to superhero movies. I like superhero movies because of all the action and the cool technology and graphics of the superpowers. I like so many superpowers, but if I had to choose which superpower I would like to have the most, I would choose telekinesis, because I can manipulate minds and use mind-power. I have always been very memory based and curious about different things, so that power would suit me well. However, overall, I would say I actually do have a superpower. It is very hidden and it is not like any superpower that a lot of people see in superhero movies. It is so hidden that you cannot really see it. No, it is not invisibility and believe it or not, it is not telekinesis. It is a very secretive superpower. My superpower is my autism. Although I may not have a cape or a fancy costume, I do consider myself a superhero. My autism is my superpower because it helps save and change the lives of others. Yes, it does create barriers. However, it also makes me who I am as a person. My autism makes me who I am; Sarah Michelle Ramos. It is what my fiancée is attracted to and he cherishes all of the great qualities in which I possess. My autism in my opinion is what makes my personality and characters a very vibrant and positive one. It is what attracts people to wanting to be my friend or hang around me. This superpower of mine is so powerful that it even influenced my mom to switch fields of study within her medical career. She enjoys her current field so much that she doesn’t even miss her former one as much. I have inspired not only my mom, but others as well, including families at my job at an early childhood center. I truly am a superhero by helping run the center and empower the families. Every task I do at my job helps change lives for the better. Seeing all of the children walk in the center and smile at me and give me hugs and shout my name in excitement makes me happy and puts a smile on my face. This makes me feel like I am a super hero, it makes me feel even better, because I truly change lives on a long-term basis instead of a short-term. People are often shocked when they find out about my superpower because they cannot see it. They cannot hear it and they surely cannot feel it. What they can do is that they can believe in it. They can believe in me and I can believe in them. When I was a child, I was often seen as a little different because sometimes I acted a little awkward and was also very short for my age. I was also one of the younger children in my grade and also have always looked young for my age. For example, when I was 12 years old, many people thought that I was 8 or 9 years old. When I told them that I was really 12 years old, they were often shocked. Others often bullied me because of having autism and being a bit socially awkward. I use these experiences to build myself up instead of letting them bring me down. I embrace the characteristics of what autism makes me special instead of dreading it as a disability. I see it more as a different ability instead of a disability. I have always been told that I have an exceptional memory. I can memorize so many things that many people forget. I remember people by their names, birthdates, etc…. I help people out in many ways with these super special abilities and they sure appreciate it. My fiancée embraces my autism as well as he tells me everyday that he likes my “autism quirks” and my quirkiness makes him and his parents smile everyday. My parents also embrace my super special abilities and always encourage me to always shine and stand out. They want me to show the world that nothing can hold me back because I am on the autism spectrum. All of this information absolutely supports my point of why I feel Autism is my superpower. A superpower creates a special feel like no other and is meant to stand out and not blend in. A superpower creates an environment in which diversity is tolerated. A superpower inspires others to be the change in which they can bring to the world. My autism does match all of these definitions and descriptions in which I feel matches a superpower, so in this case, Autism is my superpower and I do not need a cape to prove it.