Yes! Progress! For this photo is not of a student tying his own shoe. It is a student tying anOTHER student’s shoe who needed help and doesn’t yet know how to tie shoes. And trust me, that’s progress, sweet progress.
It seems like such a simple thing, but it’s not. We meet for lunch twice a week, these students and I~ three students on the spectrum of autism who struggle with social communication and reciprocity. And “ta-da!”, they are making progress! They are communicating and playing and reaching out to each other. They are seeing each other’s needs and helping to me those needs.
One of the biggest signs of progress was recently this: I was walking down the hall, and I heard, “Mrs. Halbert, come here….” I walked over to this student who was looking me in the eye and smiling (which were both pretty monumental in and of themselves!) He said, “I want you to meet my friend.” And I smiled from ear to ear at this student who is getting it. He’s learning to step outside of his comfort zone and form relationships that matter to him. They matter and he wants to share that and it makes me so happy.
Often, in my world, progress comes in little bites and pieces…like tying shoes and shaking hands and saying thank you…Or learning sight words or breaking a word problem into steps. Yes, small steps, tiny steps. Each step can take huge amounts of effort. But these steps are leading them somewhere and I’m so thankful. They are leading me as well and encourage me to keep pressing on in the day to day job of working with students who need a little extra help every once in a while….well, actually, daily! As I teach them that it’s okay to need others, I need to remember that for myself as well. I may not need someone to tie my shoes, but there are things I learn from others daily. These students are some of my favorite little teachers.