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Inclusion Column


By Nathalia Meneses, G6 Learning Specialist 

Nearly eight years ago, I met a little character who deeply impacted my professional and personal life. His name was Luke. He was 12 years old and was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

He had recently moved into town and was in need of an Inclusion Assistant to start 5th grade in an international school in Bogota. 

I was lucky enough to become that teacher.

After countless days of challenges, games, tears, laughs, and accomplishments, Luke and I became a dynamic duo! However, in the year 2018, his family decided to move to another city, and our school adventures came to a halt.

To always remember him, I decided to write a short tale from the perspective of a person within the Spectrum… or at least, what I imagine their perspective is, based on our time together. I began the story with a phrase that Luke once told me: “I am spinning round and round.”

I am spinning round and round. The glare hurts my eyes, and the sounds are drilling into my ears. I am spinning round and round.

I met you on January 21st at 9:06 am. It was a Monday. On Mondays I always wear orange, but that day I was wearing blue. It was the school’s uniform. I remember how hard it was for me to look you in the eyes… I was spinning so hard! I did not want to be rude. - Surely you understand that being nice is not easy when you can’t stop spinning. 

Everything around me was new: the sounds, the coldness, the smells, and you. I noticed that things were new for you too. However, you were not spinning. 
Our first months together were exhausting. You were trying to prepare me to face the challenges ahead of me. You were helping me find my place in this unknown world. I was just trying to survive.

It wasn’t a walk in the park. People around me had a hard time understanding and accepting that I was different. I live in a world made for those who walk straight, not for the ones who spin, like me. 

I remember your everlasting smile. It was always there, even in the toughest of times. 

Little by little, you became a part of my life. You were always there, from Monday through Friday, from 8 to 3. You knew that my favorite color was orange and that I loved roller coasters. Yours was green.

November was around the corner, and I counted the days until your birthday. 48, 47, 46… it was getting closer! Then, I counted the hours. 3, 2, 1… Finally! November 6th. It was a Tuesday.

I like calendars, clocks, and numbers. I like how predictable they are. They give me a sense of control. They help me stop spinning.

One thousand four hundred and sixty days passed. You knew me so well that with a single look, you could tell when I needed a break. I knew you so well that with a single look, I could tell when you needed a hug. Without realizing it, we became best friends. Without realizing it, you started to spin.

I am spinning round and round. That’s ok because I am not alone. Day after day, more people are spinning with me.

I look back at that rainy morning and remember how nervous I was. Little did I know, I was embarking on the greatest adventure of my life: understanding and accepting diversity. Today, I keep on spinning and I invite you all to take the risk and enjoy the ride.