Last month I received a lovely email from Aaron’s art teacher, Ms. Margarita, requesting to arrange an exposition to showcase his art. Ms. Margarita explained how she noticed that Aaron has a special gift in drawing and that it needed to be broadcasted for the entire school to see. I agreed with zero hesitation as I gathered his best pieces from home for this exposition. Along with a few unique drawings from school, myself and Ms. Margarita were able to create the perfect opportunity to build Aaron’s confidence by encouraging his gift. Although my 7-year-old son was diagnosed with autism at the young age of 3, my family and I have never allowed that aspect to stop us from edifying and uplifting our sweet Aaron.
Ms. Margarita and I both agreed that this would help motivate Aaron to focus more in school. Many children on the autistic spectrum struggle with concentration, adaptation, and change. I am proud to say that living in Spain for the last 3 years have truly assisted Aaron in these particular areas of the spectrum. Not only is Aaron becoming a spectacular artist, yet he is also making friends, maintaining good grades and learning to communicate better. I believe that attending Salesianos— one of the best charter schools in Seville— has helped my son tremendously. At times Aaron becomes frustrated and/or agitated and lacks the understanding of how to express those emotions. Nevertheless, with the help from his big brother Amari, little sister Abi, and the many classmates he has had since starting school; Aaron has vastly evolved.
Ms. Margarita expressed her desire to “get the ball rolling” on this great idea, hoping to complete this art exposition for the month of October. The showcase would be one of her activities to encourage Aaron to participate more in class. This gesture warmed my heart, knowing that the school was taking the time to give Aaron a little extra push. I agreed with Ms. Margarita that this was an excellent way to inspire Aaron not only to pay more attention in school, yet to also continue drawing.
I love how the school encourages the children, not just through education yet through art, fun and participation. They view the needs of each child and parent as they alter their assistance based upon those specifications. Spain’s overall view on children with disabilities is very contrasting to the views of my own country. I believe the westernized influence in America often places a label on children with disabilities. Meanwhile, I appreciate the school system in Spain because they do not see a child’s disability as a hindrance, yet they see it as a way to push the child more. This is simply done by integrating the child with other children without disabilities. They do not separate them nor limit them with others like themselves, yet they learn to adapt while working through their unique obstacles. I appreciate this tactic because the world is a very mixed place and our children need to know this; disabled or not. I am especially fond of the idea of treating each child normally with respect and understanding.
When I received the email from Aaron’s teacher about the exposition, my heart was touched and I am thankful for God’s love and protection for my entire family. Aaron is my middle child and he holds a special place in my heart, as do my other children. However, watching Aaron thrive and grow has motivated me in ways I could not explain. As I wrote in my book “Spain: Through the eyes of a Black American Woman,” I can see the future of my family continuing to flourish and prosper here in Spain. I am grateful to Ms. Margarita, to his past teachers, and Salesianos-Utrera for this beautiful opportunity to help my son grow like a strong and powerful tree.
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