I believe in early childhood intervention. I also believe that the best way to provide such intervention is by creating educational environments where children with and without disabilities come together to learn, play, and befriend one another. Furthermore, it is my conviction that these children, with the assistance of their parents and educators, will construct a world filled with love, understanding, and acceptance.
I teach pre-kindergarten at a school about fifteen minutes away from where I live. Half of my students have autism. The other half of the children under my care are just as special, but without any disabilities. We speak many languages in my classroom, and we also come in many colors. Some of us speak English; some, Spanish; some, both. I, the teacher, speak both English and Spanish with an accent – my native tongue is Portuguese – yet, even being the minority of the minorities in my classroom, I believe that I am the one that is loved the most. We also have members in our environment who have not found their language yet; but that is not a problem: They can communicate with us via voice output devices until they can find their own voice.
We come in an assortment of colors. Some of us are white, some, black; some, brown; some, even, yellow. The beauty about it is that with autism, without autism, speaking English, Spanish, Portuguese, or communicating via technological means, black, white, brown, or yellow, we are all accepted and viewed as just another beloved member of the community we have created for ourselves. Together we all learn from one another. They teach one another language and social skills; I teach them the pre-academic skills they will need to enter kindergarten; and they teach me how to become a better teacher and a better person.
I have confidence in the inclusive setting that I have built for my students. In addition, I have faith in the inclusive society that my students will create once they venture into the world beyond pre-kindergarten. I trust that I am preparing them for that amazing journey. I know that I am giving them the pre-literacy skills and the basic mathematical reasoning they will need to succeed in the school years to come. However, more than having the knowledge that I am getting them ready for whatever academic task they might come across, I have the certainty, that I am providing society with individuals capable not only of reading and problem-solving but also of being empathetic and non-judgmental.
I believe in what I do. I believe in the parents who entrust their children to inclusive environments such as mine. Most of all, I believe in the bright future of my students and in the all-inclusive society they will generate.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.