All the way up until my senior year of high school I was determined to be a veterinarian. I am one big sucker for animals. I've even cried in movies like Fox and the Hound, Air Bud, and Homeward Bound. Don't judge. It was my senior year in high school that I took an American Sign Language class... and I loved it! I wasn't too bad at it either. So when I went up to college at Utah State, my major was Deaf Education. I really enjoyed all of my classes and continued to take Sign Language.
All until the Spring of my Freshman year when I heard they were looking for volunteers to help coach in Aggie Special Olympics. How could I NOT volunteer?! It was through coaching in the Aggie Special Olympics that I found a true love for individuals with disabilities! The athletes are AMAZING! Soon after that I changed my major to Special Education. As I have written before, my emphasis is for children from birth-5 years old, however I have worked with individuals of all ages (6 months to 60's). I've coached special olympics, worked as a para-educator, worked in a summer program for individuals with disabilities, provided respite care, and worked as an ABA therapist until I graduated and am now a teacher in a special education preschool (3-5 year olds).
While we are on the topic, I feel it is appropriate to announce that today, March 5, 2014, is the annual day to focus on Spread the Word to End the Word! This is to promote eliminating use of the "r-word," retard(ed). It doesn't matter what way you use it, or that you don't mean to be offensive toward individuals with disabilities, it is still disrespectful to use the r-word. Go online and pledge to stop using the r-word and promote acceptance and inclusion of individuals with disabilities. To pledge, click on this link http://www.r-word.org/ and click on the orange button that says "Pledge and Be Heard" in the top, right hand corner. And don't forget to spread the word!
Individuals with disabilities are incredible! I am honored and feel it is a privilege to be able to serve them. Working with them always makes me happy, and even though my job leaves me exhausted emotionally and physically every day, I keep going back. These children, teenagers, and adults are truly special and have blessed my life more than I can express. I hope I can continue to be a resource to parents, siblings, teachers, and all those involved with individuals with disabilities.