Becoming A Teacher…

It seems that my new goal in life is making me a teacher about those who live on the margins of life. But sometimes I feel like the guy above who came to teach but no one showed up.

Currently, I am teaching a class here at my retirement community about coping with hearing loss and having fun learning some sign language along the way. Retirement communities should be ripe for this kind of harvest in that 70% of the people, over 70 years-old, have some significant levels of hearing loss. In my dreams, I imagined dozens of my fellow residents would jump at the change to learn about coping in the hearing world. Of course, reality often overwhelms dreams. There started out with about 30 who were “interested”, 15 attending the first session, and 10 by the fourth session.

One of the problems with getting attendance at these type self-help things is to get people to admit that they even have a problem. Let’s face it, people are stubborn. Especially older people. I am disappointed, but will enthusiastically be there for whoever comes, as long as they come. Maybe the next round will be better.

Getting down to my main thoughts for this post, I am primarily becoming a teacher to try to get people to understand what it is like to have autism, at least my version of it. It used to be called Asperger’s Syndrome, but somewhere along the way, the “experts” decided to erase that name. But, that is another story.

I really want to show everyone how the world could be a better place if more of us neurodivergents were openly accepted as contributing members of society. I need to help people learn that they might just be better off if they started emulating some of our best traits, instead of trying to change us to be like them.

At the very least, I want to turn the focus to what autistic people can do, rather than what they can’t.

I have been studying autism for quite a while now, and have rarely seen articles, scientific or otherwise, that show autistic characteristics in a positive way. Many autistic adults like me have strengths, interests, and skills, that have allowed us to lead fulfilling and productive lives and make significant contributions. The constant focus on only the negative sides of autism makes it harder for us to proudly claim the autism label and especially to act as an example for others. I struggled for some time to whether I would claim the label. I still think maybe I am a fool for even attempting this in addition to carrying the deaf mantel.

Instead of putting people down because they have autism, we as a society should be figuring out ways to accommodate them in developing their special skills. We seem to do everything we can to make sure that those with athletic skills are given every opportunity to develop them. Why can’t we do the same with those who are autistic?

3 thoughts on “Becoming A Teacher…

  1. You’ve been a lifelong learner, a researcher. Now you’ll employ those skills figuring out what worked and what didn’t. Is this the right audience? Sure seems that it would be, doesn’t it? Would a vlog work better, allowing you to also reach younger people still coming to grips with their unique identities? Do you need to inject humor into your talks? (Horrors. I couldn’t do that. My jokes fall flat, and I sometimes am startled when people laugh as if I were making a witty ironic statement when I was dead serious.) Or, are ten people quite a lot, actually? When we realized our granddaughter was deaf, about the same time I was being told my type of hearing loss was hereditary and both daughters admitted they were experiencing hearing loss, too, my husband and I began taking classes in sign. When we were in Dallas, we landed in a class with an instructor who had been teaching for decades, giving her time for her reputation to build, classes had 20-30 attendees. When we moved here and signed up for more, there were never more than ten in the class, if that many, although the teacher was quite skilled and personable. Good luck as you figure it out, but know that you have my admiration and you’ve already put something good out in the world.


    1. Thanks again for the thoughts Linda. Vlogs just wouldn’t work for me. I am an author, not an actor or speech giver. But you are probably right in that I don’t likely attract too many young people to RJsCorner. Maybe I need to turn it to something more hip (even “hip” is a dated term isn’t it.

      My deafness is usually inherited, but I don’t remember anyone who had a problem with it in my family, but since I know very little about my mother’s side of the family, it could have come from there.

      Sign language instructors do vary greatly in helping once hearing people with that language. I know I just have to be patient. I plan on bringing the starting class again sometime this year, while continuing the current group as an advanced class. Yes, it will take patience to make it happen, and that is something I am usually short of, but I am getting better.

      Thank you for the gracious comment about putting something good out into the world.


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