Samantha Fox never imagined that she’d be entering her fourth year of educating children with autism at Loretto Elementary School in Jacksonville, Florida. Though she knew teaching was her calling, according to Fox, she didn’t think she was patient or smart enough to work with kids who had special needs. It didn’t take long for her to realize that none of that mattered.
“If you get right down to it, no matter what the child’s disability, underneath it all they are just a kid like all the rest. They just want to be supported, loved, included and not looked at like they are any different than everyone else,” Fox shared.
This is the chorus Fox and others sing when it comes to addressing the special needs of those with disabilities. When asked whether the general public is well equipped to understand this message, she said “not yet, but we are headed in the right direction.” Fox referenced how technology, the internet and our ability to connect provide the opportunity for people to learn about disabilities. The more knowledge and understanding that exists, the easier it will be for everyone to have a seat at the table.
For Fox, it’s all about normalizing inclusion. We’re lucky to be living in a generation that now includes a character with autism on Sesame Street and movies starring actors with Down syndrome. It’s our duty to continue to raise children who are inclusive and this is the best way to start. Another perhaps less obvious way to look at special education is how we can integrate those lessons into every curriculum. With anxiety disorder rates soaring among younger and younger children, we should consider including social and emotional health lessons in every classroom.
“It boils down to making adjustments in what we consider the norm, in order to make it so that all kids and adults are able to access what you and I can, like going to college or getting job training, eating at a restaurant, or buying groceries. We need to continue learning about inclusion in everyday life and what that can look like,” said Fox.
When ABLE United decided to feature a special needs teacher, we couldn’t have imagined just how powerful her testimony would be, or how it would align with our own goal—of making it possible for those with disabilities to thrive in every aspect of their lives. By taking time to understand and be inclusive of those with disabilities and by making sure resources are available to them, we can help to create a bright future in which everyone has a safe place.
If you have any questions about the only savings account created especially for persons with disabilities, you can call us directly at 1-888-524-2253. To find out if you or someone you know is eligible for an ABLE United savings account, try our eligibility wizard.