The coolest thing about being an aide is that I get to spend my days with people who experience the world in a completely different way to that which I do. In my old career as a supplier to the advertising industry, I pretty much dealt with two types of people. I dealt with artists, who have an inherently selfish and needy disposition, and print producers, who have an inherently selfish and needy disposition (yes, I said that twice. They’re selfish and needy in completely different ways.) I was a fairly smug agent in that I knew how to navigate and negotiate these two groups, and how to bring them together in a (usually) harmonious way. Special needs certainly puts the spark of unpredictability back into human relations!
It might seem obvious to say that, for example, an autistic child, has a very different take on the world. But the thing for me which makes the school experience so unique, is that the kids are surrounded by adults who couch their behaviour by making allowances that the outside world possibly never would. They’re supported and taught how to modify behaviours that wouldn’t be accepted outside, but when that doesn’t work, they’re supported anyway.
I’m envious in a way of kids who react unpredictably. They don’t have a ‘front’. When they want to have a cry, they cry. When they have a meltdown, they have a recovery-snooze on the floor. When they can’t see the logic of notating common-sense lesson content, they refuse. While I wouldn’t want the restrictions that come with many disabilities, I can’t help but think of how many of my professional problems in my old life might have been solved by a good cry and a flail on the floor.
Image by Gregory Crewdson.