I want to put this out there: Roman and I really like Katie. She is his aide at school. Katie’s full-time job is to be focused on Roman and his education. Katie does Roman’s sensory exercises with him everyday, communicates with him using his PECS book, helps him adjust to changes at school and even gets the glorious job of changing his diapers. Basically, Katie is me at school.
When school started, we didn’t know what we were going to get as far as an aide goes. I didn’t know how interested a complete stranger could ever be in Roman and his education. But I have to say that the Ionia County Intermediate School District really knows how to hire ’em. It’s not just Katie. All the aides really seem to have their stuff together. They’re all easy to talk to and they genuinely seem to like their jobs and their charges.
It’s hard to believe, as the parent of an autistic child, that someone besides yourself can get past the difficulties of dealing with your child to really care about them and their education, but I have met such people and they’re godsends. I have a friend who has an older child with a different disability who has horror stories to tell of aides that just don’t care and are just there to waste time and collect a paycheck. I can’t tell you how fortunate I feel to not be in the same situation as my friend.
I’m not the only one who feels this way. Yesterday, after two days off due to snow, I marched Roman in to his classroom to start his day. Every day, Katie meets us with Roman’s schedule in hand. He knows the routine, first the backpack comes off, then the coat, boots, snowpants, etc. Every time a new piece of clothing is shed, he grabs the icon for that item and takes it from the schedule and puts it in the “done” pocket. Midway through the routine, Roman made a move to hug his aide and then, as both of us can attest to, he said “Katie”. He has never named a person outside of his immediate family before except for once or twice that we’ve heard him say something that resembled “Grandpa”. I think that means he approves of his appointed aide and really does care about her.
I know that Katie is probably reading this and I’m glad. It’s hard to express my gratitude in the few minutes we have while running after Roman together in the morning and after school. Thank you Katie. Roman and I are both glad you’re at his side.