My name is Ruba Salem and I am beginning my journey as an Autism Spectrum Disorder elementary school teacher this 2017-18 school year.
This is how I ended up in this amazing world:
Many, many, (many,) years ago I studied, and worked in the journalism world. I loved it. It was exciting, and never really felt like work for me. In 2006 I decided to take a break when my first son, Mohammad, was born. He was such a good baby, it was a pleasure being home with him. He slept through the night and barely ever made a peep. As the months went on I noticed that Mohammad didn't seem like other children his age. He needed to be violently rocked to sleep. When I said he barely ever made a peep, he didnt coo either. He didn't answer to his name. He never made eye contact. Had no interest in anyone around him. And the list goes on. Low and behold, he was showing signs of autism. Long story short, I began my trip on the autism train when he was about 15 months old. Early intervention was my best friend and autism became my world. Mohammad began a slew of therapies, and I was his dedicated advocate. I read every book, went to every meeting, joined every support group, and attended every training. I'm not exaggerating when I say EVERY. I was in, I was all in.
Fast forward to 2014:
Mohammad was in third grade when I decided to start looking for work again. I finally felt ready. I scoured all the popular websites for work, and I couldn't get passed the idea that I would have to get childcare for afterschool, holidays and summers. Would there be anyone to take care of Mohammad like I would? Would they understand him? Would his crazy therapy schedule make them crazy? Then it hit me, if I work at a school I could get my feet wet while simultaneously maintaining my kids' afterschool schedules. (Mohammad has an amazing littler brother named Ali, and no, I didn't name them after the LEGENDARY Muhammad Ali.)
Work at a school? What? How? Well... I know autism, so I set my sights on the ASD unit at Mohammad's school. I often wondered if working with kids on the spectrum, and then going home to a child on the spectrum would be too much for me. I soon found out that it wasn't. I've been told that it is what I was put on this earth to do. I was hired as a paraprofessional. My first year was spent getting to know all the kiddos in the unit and working on their sensory needs. Later I ended up working right in the classrooms.
Fast forward to 2017:
My mom, God bless her, forced me to register for the state exam to get my temporary teaching license. I passed, I interviewed, and I got the job! My excitment surprised me. I thought fear would consume me (I'm so glad it didn't.) I'm looking forward to making a change in my students' lives. Aaaaand, that's where you come in...
I will be working in an extremely high-needs classroom. Some of my students have little to no verbal language, some have severe behaviors that will get in the way of their learning, others have extreme sensory needs, and frankly, most have a combination of all of the above. I know this is ambitious of me, but I really want to outfit my class in a way that most teachers cannot because of finances. Sensory toys/activities, communication devices, alternative educational materials, unique furniture, and cutting-edge technology are what these kids needs. What a new teacher gets in my county might buy me the basics... for a few weeks. Paper, crayons, pencils, maybe some puzzles, but I want more. I want to give my students the opportunities that they may not otherwise have access to.
I don't really know how this works, but my family encouraged me to take this route to get the ball (which is my classroom) rolling. Any amount will be greatly appreciated. If you can't donate money (which I totally understand, I've been there,) please share this page. Please know that your money will go to a great cause, and essentially it will be the gift that keeps on giving. What I plan to teach my students will not be possible without your help.
Thank you for your consideration.
Mrs. Salem (it has a nice ring to it, huh?!)
- Hadeel Khalaf-Saleh
- Anonymous .
- Em Nizar Alouri
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