I feel like I have so many messages to deliver to the blissful masses from my now precarious vantage point, from the importance of early precautionary doctor visits to the merits of life insurance. But putting pragmatism aside, there is one thing I’d urge everyone to do. Stop just assuming you have a full lifetime to do whatever it is you dream of doing. I know it sounds ridiculously cliched, and of course you never think it will happen to you, but let me assure you that life really can be taken from you at any time, so live it with that reality in mind.
In short, public education needs human beings who are fully committed both to their work and to themselves. It needs people who are in the profession for the long haul, focused on both continuous improvement and on achieving a work/life balance. We cannot continue to accept the narrative that we are never good enough and that we should shrink back into our classrooms accepting nothing but perfection from ourselves and others. If we can’t find this balance, our system and its students will continue to suffer.
Our progressive thought-shapers need to stop treating autism and disability as rare and tragic exceptions, instead of commonplace, both now and throughout history. Parents-to-be need to be aware that autism is a possibility they can prepare for, not a tragedy.