In 2001, I was given the distinct honor to include Ian, a child with autism, in my general education 3rd grade classroom. Ian changed me as a teacher and how I saw children forever. I learned how to collaborate with Ian's family, his teacher for special education, his paraprofessionals, and the school community. Ian, along with all of the students I have taught with and without disabilities, taught me to focus of the abilities and the strides students make. That year, I really was not sure if I even had even a tiny impact on Ian. Ian struggled with verbalizing most everything and I struggled with whether or not the strategies we developed were working.
Well, Ian is 21 now. Last year at the Walk and Run for Autism, Ian came up to me, looked me squarely in the eye and commanded, "Mrs. Miller, walk with me." Goosebumps formed all over me. I responded with, "Let's walk, Ian!". I realized in that moment that all of Ian's stakeholders over his school career made a huge impact on his post secondary outcomes. I am proud to be a part of Ian's path and grateful for the lessons he taught me.