Ed note: Just wanted to make sure y’all saw yesterday’s post, The White House Part Five – A Spectrum of Words. Since I was home sick yesterday, I posted it mid-morning, undoubtedly throwing a few people off. If you haven’t yet seen it, I’d urge you to check it out and weigh in on the conversation. Click –> HERE <– to read the post. And now, back to Harvard.
Yours truly with Dr Stephen Shore at the Harvard Graduate School of Education
photo courtesy of Michael Leventhal
There’s so much I want to tell you about Harvard. About the amazing experience of sharing a panel with Dr Stephen Shore. About the hope and inspiration that is intrinsic in his very being – a man who was once a child who had regressed into autism at eighteen months, a child without words whose mother had been told in no uncertain terms to institutionalize her son, a child whose mother – God bless her – had said, “No.”
A child who grew into an adult who has earned a PhD. Who is an assistant college professor, who writes books and speaks all over the world. Who sits on numerous boards of advocacy groups and who truly makes a difference in the lives of our children. And not least who is married and funny and an extremely entertaining and engaging speaker.
I want to tell you about how validating it was to hear him talk again about how he was raised – how autism was simply a word that was used to explain his differences, how it had no positive or negative connotation; how it simply was. I want to tell you that I got the chills when he said, “My parents accepted me for who I was yet understood that I had serious challenges if I was to lead a fulfilling and productive life.”
But honestly, my friends? I don’t have the time to do any of it justice. Not to mention that this whole White House story looms overhead and there are some of you out there (I won’t name names, CeCe cause you know who you are) who might just come after me if I don’t just get on with it.
But … and this is a really big but … I really needed to share this with you.
You might recall that the night before I was to speak on the panel, I asked you all for your input. Well, the panel wasn’t quite what I expected it to be and there really wasn’t an opportunity to talk much, if at all, about autism in the classroom. But I think you know me well enough to know that small details like that don’t tend to deter me from spreading the word that I think needs to be spread.
Before the panel began, I had set out cards with Diary’s url on them. As we wrapped up, I pointed them out and asked those in attendance to please take the time to go to the previous night’s post and to read your comments and suggestions for themselves. I figured the message would best be delivered without the middle (wo)man anyway.
What follows is part of an a-mail that I received from one of the young women who had coordinated the event.
Having you there to share your experiences and ideas brought so much to our panel and I don’t think we could have found a better mother! (ed note: OK, I so should have edited that out and just started with the next paragraph, but it’s been a rough couple of days here in Diary Land, so Mama love from any angle is staying on the record, damn it.)
I was wondering if it would be okay for me to take the comments people posted on your blog about what they would like us at the Ed school to know, remove names, and then pass some of them along to my cohort? I would love to send out an email with these comments because I think they are so valuable! Please let me know if that is okay.
As you might imagine, I told her that it was far more than OK.
And so it is, my dear readers, that every one of you who commented that day went to Harvard. Seventy-four of you (well, more like sixty-eight of you and one like six times :)) will make your mark on the educators of tomorrow.
Thank you for taking the time to put your thoughts into words. Thank you for believing that doing so could make a difference.
Because it will.
In fact, I think it already has.
And hey, now we can all say we went to Harvard.