Thursday, April 19, 2007

Kids Will Be Kids

Yesterday I went on assignment for a story about special education and autism. That's really all I knew. I dont know much about autism except what I've seen on television and in movies. I've never been directly exposed to anyone with autism. I was concerned with distracting the person...would my camera be bothersome? Would my presence be a problem?

I was introduced to eleven-year old Kailynn Naquin at Christus Schumpert hospital. Kailynn's mother was disappointed at the lack of special education services her daughter was getting from the Caddo school system. She was told her daughter could not attend a school within walking distance of their home because of her autism.

When I met Kailynn, any concerns I had went immediately out the door. She was such a sweet girl, and frankly, she was just like any other eleven-year-old girl I've ever encountered on assignment. She giggled as her occupational therapist pushed her on a swing. She would watch herself on the swing in a mirror and laugh, and look at me holding the camera and say "Cheeeeese!" Just like any other kid.She drew a picture of an ice cream cone, practiced her handwriting skills, and played catch with a ball. When she was done with her therapy, she picked out a prize...a pinwheel, which she immediately blew on to watch it spin. Then, like any young girl, she put her toy in her little purse and moved on to the next therapy exercise.

I realize that there are special circumstances that must be met when dealing with children like Kailynn...but isnt that what the school system is here to do? I hope school officials can find a way to make sure that she gets the time and attention she needs and deserves.

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