TV Voice Competitions and Students with Autism

So I don’t know about you, but I’ve been loving all the TV Voice competitions.  Although I loved The Voice last season too, I had forgotten how much I LOVE watching the original coaches.  It’s been so fun to see them encourage their teammates and coach them to be the best that they can be.  At school, I see that as my role-a coach-not just someone who imparts knowledge but someone who coaches my students to become the best that they can be.  My goal is to encourage them, to challenge them to take risks (in a safe environment), to celebrate their successes, to walk alongside them in their hardships and to help them become life long learners.  I feel like I get just as excited as those Voice coaches when my students have successes.

Tonight as I am watching another voice competition on TV, I’ve begun comparing these groups to the school musical that I watched tonight.  My friend invited me to go with her to her son’s school to watch their holiday program.  Her son goes to a school for students with autism.  Honestly, this was the most amazing program I’ve seen in a long time!  These students with autism had been encouraged in their talents.  They had practiced long hours.  They had been challenged and encouraged to take risks and to try new things.  They were confident in their parts, and you could tell that their successes had been celebrated.  I loved watching the smiles on their faces and listening to their amazing voices.  Each actor stayed in character and performed the dances and songs with grace and joy.  I laughed and cried and smiled.  What an awesome way to spend an evening in the middle of a busy week.

When I got home and turned on the TV to watch the end of the Sing Off, I watched those groups sing and dance.  But…instead of getting lost in the drama and the fun of those groups, I found myself thinking again about those amazing students with autism who were doing the same thing tonight.  I’m so thankful for those teachers and parents who love those kids and care about them enough to provide opportunities for them to show off their talents.  It gives me joy and hope for my day tomorrow!  Thankful for neurodiversity!  (Do you know what that word means?  If not, look it up:)