It is still a vivid experience. Something that is deeply carved in my senses. That very day that I was holding flashcards about weather conditions, teaching them how to read the words and what it is, sounding it out enthusiastically for them to imitate, adding some tune for better reception and recognition of the words such as sunny, windy, and others, gesturing with both hands for motion when one of them caught me by fear and surprise as she pulled the white hair clip off my hair. It was so abrupt that I was caught off guard of myself. I was for a second worried about staying even longer in the room where I was the only one with at least “normal” brain function. It was the longest 5 seconds of my life. One of them, whom I supposed was the “teachers’ pet” ran immediately to their Thai Teacher to report what had happened. There and then the standby Thai Teacher came in and reprimanded the poor child, led the girl in one of the corners of the room and talked to her very softly that I couldn’t decipher what the other teacher was trying to explain.
As my sense of normality came back, I recomposed myself. I tried to control my shaking voice of terror. No doubt that the act of this adolescent girl who was in need of special care has sent a shiver down my spine. Still, I thank God for creating in me a brave heart that I was able to keep coming back to the room with 15 special children and finish the semester with them. I fully know that she didn’t want to cause harm to me; that it was the only way she could have the hair clip that time; that I wasn’t prepared for such. If only she could have enunciated what she wanted but one thing is for sure she had placed a specific concern for their special needs.
After more than a year, I was troubled by the same concern for these children with special need. This past week, during a school’s event, I happened to see myself worrying about a certain child who for a reason fall into the same category. While in the hall packed with so many other students and teachers and with the loud sounds and screams, I saw him grew uneasy of the scenario he was currently in. After a while, he just had a meltdown. He wasn’t able to manage himself while in the midst of so many colors, sounds, and performances. He fell on the floor trying to cover his ears, head on his knees and with eyes closed. I ran towards him, clasped him, his head on my shoulders as I covered his ears. I tried really hard to at least calm him down before he feels worse than that. As the sounds grew louder, we decided to take him out of the hall for a much calmer environment. I was so worried as a mom to her child.
I didn’t specialize in this kind of teaching. Never did I have an experience of teaching children with special need. These were such a remote experiences. I was wondering why God has allowed me to face such challenge. I know that He’s changing me and building something in me. And this is teaching on another level. Teaching them through the love you have for them beats all the learned strategies and book-based knowledge. Beyond the course outlines on the printed pages. Beyond the subject matters.