Angi and I can finish each other’s sentences or shoot a glance across the room and know exactly what the other one is thinking. We can go into any situation, in or out of the school and simply pass the baton without the other one looking. We just know. You would think that we had the same makeup, but one of us has autism and one of us doesn’t. I guess I could say she is a neurotypical or maybe, “one of those,” but even though we come from different molds, we think exactly alike.
They say opposites attract, I guess in this case, that is true. There is not a student that does not sit across from us in any given situation that we do not have a general idea in how to reach them. What I like about us is that if one way doesn’t work, we find a way that does. Our favorite student is the one right in front of us. We simply love to change lives and reach kids that were not able to be reached in ‘typical school settings.’
IDEA House was formed with Angi’s knowledge and experience from a public school setting. She believed that students with autism were falling through the cracks and she knew there was a way to reach them. A couple years into the formation of IDEA House, Angi’s concept continued to grow. Students were growing and Angi needed more staff.
That’s when I came along. I wrote a feature on IDEA House as a journalist, for a hard print newspaper. A year later, we ran into each other at a camp we were both volunteering at and boom, she asked me to work in the office.
I wish I could say she hired me for my expertise that day. I wish I could say she knew my degrees, my knowledge in behavior and my drive to reach kids who are hurting and or lost in the system. All she knew was that I had disabilities and I was leaving the newspaper business.
I could say the rest is history, but what a journey. The world of Autism is as straight as the line on Charlie Brown’s shirt. For whatever reason, we just work. The two of us come from two different brains, but we think exactly alike. Behavior is our expertise and connection with the kids is our passion. Autism fuels our souls.
I am her assistant director now. I have grown a little bit past filing papers in the office. I am confident when I say there are no two people who work so well together. We are the two puzzle pieces that aren’t supposed to fit together, but we complete the puzzle. We are an autism expert and an individual with autism that can simply get down on their knees to reach a child any way we need. We will hug, cry, or let a child rant if we need to. We will hold steady and be consistent and stand firm in all we believe. We know and understand what someone with Autism needs. We believe in the philosophies of the school without wavering. Our love, expertise, and passion helps hurting kids with autism, thrive.
Upon even the shortest observation of the two of us working, you will have to notice the subtle nod or meeting of the eyes, but without a word, we know exactly what to do. We know which one is going to talk and what they are going to say. We know who should play what role in any given situation. We know who needs assistance and who needs us to disengage. I’m not sure if it is that I am turning Angi into a person with Autism or she is turning me into a neurotypical. But one thing I do know, we know Autism.