Working with Special Needs Teenagers
In my book, Lyrics Heart & Soul Francesca works in a center for special needs teenagers and Ryder servers’ community service hours there. I worked with in the same environment for a long-time and it was the best job in the world. It is a hard job with a lot of emotional highs and lows. But the kids are unforgettable and still make me laugh when I think of the antics they would pull.
One of my students was a seventeen-year-old girl with Autism, OCD and developmentally delayed. I will call her Sarah, that is not her real name. Even though Sarah had three diagnosis we had to deal with the OCD first and foremost. Sarah had to have everything and everyone in exactly the place they were supposed to be.
One day my bra strap was showing when I reach up for something and my shirt slid off my shoulder. I had a coral bra on and Sarah jumped up and pulled me into her arms and pulled on the bra strap and asked “Nellie Furtado bra?”. I had no idea what she was referring to until she took me to the computer and played a Nellie Furtado video where she had on a coral bra. She checked my bra strap every day for the rest of time together.
Sarah was obsessed with music. She loved the song Barbie Girl and because Barbie is blond she called me Barbie instead of my name. She would also sing the song and sing part of sentence and I had to finish it. If I didn’t we couldn’t move on with our day. This happened at least twenty times a day.
She loved food but because of her OCD she had to eat the same thing every day in the same order. But she really wanted other food. I would be eating my lunch and she would antagonize another student so I would have to attend to them. While I was busy she would steal my lunch. The funny thing is if I gave her my lunch instead of hers, she wouldn’t eat it. It was the thrill of beating me
In my book, you will meet a group of kids I created like Sarah. Kids that will teach Ryder the same lessons they taught me. First and foremost, the true meaning of life and not to take ourselves to seriously. They kids are hilarious, loving and struggle to fit into a world that doesn’t accept them. I hope you pick up my book and fall in love not just with the main characters but also with the children that will have you laughing one minute and crying the next.