• puzzle
    The Stuff That Really Matters

    Dedicated to the educational assistants, resource and classroom teachers, who provide daily support to students with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

    At the end of the day, there was no embrace.
    Did I send him home with a smile or a frown on his face?

    The school is big and noisy too,
    I get lost and overwhelmed, uncertain of what to do.
    Did you abandon me, or take my hand?
    Did you lead the way with footprints in the sand?

    That's the stuff that really matters…

    I get so uptight, confused in class,
    My brain is full; I may not last.
    Did you ignore the signals or suggest I take a break?
    Did you hover over me or give me some space?
    All I needed was to be alone in a quiet place….

    The pace is fast, the words sound like "gobbledygook".
    Did you let me sink in that giant book?
    Or did you break it down into small chunks?
    Use simple language, so I didn't flunk?

    That's the stuff that really matters….

    Pictures help me to see,
    What's complex in the world for me.
    Did you add some visuals to the sheet for me?
    Or did you forget and let me sink in the dark, confused sea?

    Touch, smell, taste, what I hear and see,
    Sometimes too much stimulation overwhelms me.
    Did you tell me to "grow up and get a grip"?
    Or did you consider my sensory needs and my mother's tips?

    That's the stuff that really matters….

    I thrive on routine and predictability,
    Changes are difficult and sometimes scare me.
    Did you warn me about that fire drill?
    Or did you wish you had as I let out a shrill?
    Did your lack of planning send me into a spin?
    I hope not, cause then nothing will sink in.

    Social situations are painful for me,
    The jungle of recess… please rescue me.
    Did you invite other kids to play some games?
    Or did you leave me isolated, feeling lame?
    Did you set me up to experience success?
    Or after the fight, were you telling me to confess?

    That's the stuff that really matters….

    I'm a literal thinker; I don't understand the abstract.
    Expressions, idioms and jokes really set me back.
    Did you explain what she meant when she said " a penny for your thoughts"?
    Or did you leave me to wonder…what's with that?

    Say what you mean, mean what you say.
    Spare me the pain of more confusion in my day.

    I have a little toy that's so dear to me.
    It makes me feel safe; it's always there for me.
    Some say I obsess and go on and on,
    But I was truly devastated when I realized it was gone.
    Did you make me sit in class in panic mode?
    Or did you join me in the search, so I didn't explode?

    That's the stuff that really matters….

    Frustration may lead me to lose control,
    When this happens, I don't achieve my goals.
    I may get rude and say nasty things to you,
    Did I get a fresh start the next morning with you?
    Did you look at me tenderly and say,
    "Don't worry about yesterday; we all have bad days."

    You are my safety net; you are my guide.
    Your calm, consistent nature helps me to survive.
    I may not be able to thank you for all you say and do.
    Just remember at the end of the day,
    When you send me on my way,
    If there's a smile on my face,
    It's because of your amazing grace.

    You remembered the stuff that really matters…

    Written by:
    Denise Gotell
    Itinerant Resource Teacher
    Intermediate Autism Program
    Ottawa Carleton Catholic School Board
    November 13, 2003

Last Modified on October 21, 2007