Several weeks ago I asked several of Tucker’s teachers to write about their experiences with him over the years. So far we’ve heard from…
Today’s post is from the one and only Mrs. Corsbie. Mrs. Corsbie (also known as Saint Samantha) was Tucker’s 5/6 Special Ed Teacher.
Trust me, after you read this – you will know why I wish I could clone her. Not just for Tucker…but all spectrum kiddos, heck – for all children. She’s amazing and has one of the most giving, loving, generous, compassionate hearts that exist. She truly loved and cared for my sweet son – and it’s so obvious in her writing.
In Samantha’s words…
Oh Tucker, that young man puts a smile on my face.
- His grown up sense of humor and conversations
- His love for books, reading, and sports
- The month he was obsessed with using hash-tags during our talks
- The countless times he would forget about his own strength or size
- The time he broke the bathroom door (because he didn’t realize his own strength) which he loved fixing with our custodian
- The way he would tower over me while we walked down the hallway
- The way he wears shorts in the dead of winter
- His compassion for others, especially those on the spectrum
- Our autism awareness celebrations on April 2nd
- The autism presentation he did with Nikki in front of his whole 6th grade homeroom
- The fact we both can get a little “hangry” (angry when hungry)
Needless to say the list could go on and on, but I won’t continue. If you know Tucker, you probably have the same smile on your face that I do.
I supported Tucker with his social and behavior skills when he was in 5th and 6th grade. Tucker had a scheduled period of time to come into my room, but would come at other times, if needed, to cool off or take a break from a frustrating activity, class, assignment, or even teacher.
Tucker was not my first student with autism and he hasn’t been my last, but every student with autism is extremely different and therefore they each require different supports. With Tucker, communication was our key to success. I had to really rely on the team to communicate with each other and with me. I had to rely on the teachers to come to me if they needed additional support structuring up an assignment or group project. I often spoke with Nikki for ideas on how to support Tucker because she knows him the best.
Most importantly, I needed Tucker to trust me, communicate with me, share his feelings, and come to me when he needed help or had a problem. Now this is no easy task, there were low and high points, and a lot of learning that took place during our two-year adventure together.
From day one I worked to earn Tucker’s trust and make a connection with him. I did this by making personal connections with Tucker. I always asked how his weekend was or how his day was going. In return, I would share something about myself. We bonded over UNI football, occasional afternoon snacks, and a similar sense of humor. Before I knew it, Tucker was the one initiating conversations and asking what I did the previous weekend. The personal connection was made.
The next step was to keep his trust. I did this by being calm, patient, and providing a listening ear. When Tucker came into my room upset, he went and sat in a nook filled with beanbag chairs. I would tell him I’d be over in a minute and give him a second to calm down and just breathe. I would then sit with him and then let him explain his side of the story. I never judged, never got upset, and never raised my voice. I just listened. We would then work out the problem together. We talked about expectations; how he could fix the problem he was having, or how he could handle it better the next time. Each conversation was unique to the situation that occurred that day. Every conversation ended with Tucker laughing at me while I attempted to get out of the beanbag chairs.
I truly cherished these small chats together because I learned so much about Tucker, about what I could do to support him better, and what he needed in order to continue being successful.