My first exposure to special needs students was in the 5th grade when Bradley was streamlined into the public school system. Being with Bradley was an everyday reminder that I could have been like him. I soon came to learn that I loved to spend time working with him and I had a special gift. I had patience and understanding and the teachers always asked for my help because they said that Bradley would listen to me. This is when I first learned that I could make a difference in someone elses life.
In 6th grade I sought out helping with the GCISD Extended School Year program (summer school for special needs students). The first year I met a boy named Justin who was full of energy. The teachers realized that I had the ability to not only keep Justin on task but to keep up with his energy level. From that summer through this past summer, I spent over 400 hours (during June/July) working with Justin and other high energy special needs kids.
Over the last 6 summers, Justin (and others) have grown from my efforts and I have grown from working with them.