When Autism Really Speaks Follow Up

When Autism Really Speaks

The school year will soon come to a close in June and the performing arts program curriculum will not be returning, due to school budget challenges. Although I will miss so many of my students; I am glad to have been able to share with them my love for the theatre and inspire their imaginations. Being a lifelong thespian, shifting gears is part of the ongoing process of developing, discovering and growing; which gleefully brings me with an updated topic on Bishop*, one of my most memorable students.

boy with autism
boy with autism

When I first wrote the piece When Autism Really Speaks, Bishop had not yet been tested to see whether or not if he was autistic. He was always very quiet in my class and clung very close to the teacher’s aid. It was the one day when we were acting out “pretend microphone introductions” that Bishop joined in with the class and wanted his turn on the mic with his other classmates and spoke in a big booming voice; leaving his classmates cheering him on and me and his aid with unmistakable tears in our eyes with pure joy that he participated in the class!

black boy raising hand

It was soon after that, Bishop was diagnosed with autism and was removed from his initial pre-school classroom and was now settling in a special needs classroom environment. Although I knew Bishop was in good hands, and the highly skilled instructors would help Bishop thrive to be the best he could be I would still miss those round brown eyes, and that rich dark chocolate face.

The school has a very strong immersion program and to my surprise last week as I was setting up my classroom; in walks Bishop with his new set of classmates, holding no one’s hand, walking single file staying in the line. As I normally do, I set up the chairs in a circle and after a round of embraces, kisses and how much I missed everyone; my young scholars and Bishop took their seats. I instructed the class to take a deep breath in and letting it out slowly before beginning our morning vocal warm ups. I found myself glancing over at Bishop and he like his classmates were quiet and awaiting the next instruction.

We all exhaled at the same time and on cue we began our vocals. Bishop, confidently, without missing a beat joined in with the vocal warm ups in a big booming voice. Leaving me breathless once again, enjoying when autism really speaks...

***Not his real name.