An Open Letter From A Child With Autism To A Teacher
Recently the Friendship Circle posted “An Open Letter to a Child with Autism by the Therapist/Teacher.” I mentioned this to my 13 year old son Louie, who had just written a thank-you letter to surprise his teacher for Teacher Appreciation Week. He decided to write another letter, an open letter to a teacher from a child with autism.
Louie didn’t know where to start, so I asked him what he likes and does not like about school. I asked him what a teacher should and should not do. I asked him how he feels in school and what type of help he needs.
I think it is significant that Louie states twice in his letter that:
- he prefers it when a teacher uses a gentle voice
- he sometimes feels tired in school
- he wants to be with other students
- his schedule is important to him
In the communications between home and school, the student’s voice is sometimes lost. But this is the most important voice. Louie was not always able to express his thoughts orally or on paper. That’s why I feel honored to hear his voice now.
Thank you for helping me learn. I love to go to school. When I go to school, I notice that you give me a smile. You say, “Hello,” in a gentle voice. That makes me feel happy.
I need help focusing in class. My brain sometimes flops. Sometimes I feel tired and I don’t know why. Sometimes I get distracted when people move around. Lights and noises sometimes distract me. I like it when you turn off the lights. You should use a gentle voice.
I work a lot. I feel like I am working all the time. Hard work makes me feel tired. I need a break to walk around.
You should always tell the truth. One time I had a teacher who liked to say, “Good job.” I tested her. I gave her wrong answers. She kept saying, “Good job.” She was not telling the truth. When I make a mistake now, you always say, “You have to try again.” That is telling the truth. I like it when you tell the truth.
I don’t like missing class to go to Social Skills or Speech. I like my regular schedule. I want to be with the other students in my class. I want to learn with the teacher.
I like Lunch Club. Lunch Club is part of my schedule. I do not have to miss class to go to Lunch Club.
I feel confused when I have to talk to other students. I like to be around other students. But I don’t know what to say.
Words can hurt me sometimes. When I was in preschool, I asked my teacher where Mom was. The teacher said, “Your mother is gone.” I felt scared. I like it when you tell me, “I like to work with you.” I like it when you look in my eyes. I like it when you answer my questions very carefully.
I like to try new things at school. I need someone to help me learn how to try. After I learn how, I can do it on my own. That means you are a good teacher.