I Taught That Kid Everything He Knows!


So I'm reading Andrew Solomon's tome Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity, and I'm plugging my way through the "Autism" chapter when I run across two familiar names in the same sentence: Temple Grandin and Ari Ne'eman; Temple Grandin is a well-known author, professor, and designer of humane cattle-handling equipment . . . and she is also autistic and a major advocate for autism . . . and Ari Ne'eman is described as "the founder of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network," but that's not how I know the name . . . I remember the name because several years ago I taught a student by that name, a very very smart student with Asperger syndrome, who not only could wax eloquent about politics and the law, but was also very aware of his social difficulties, and knew how to compensate for them with various strategies and techniques . . . and so with the help of the almighty Wikipedia, I now realize that this student is enormously famous in the world of autism advocacy -- and not only did he found the aforementioned autism network (at the ripe age of nineteen) but President Obama also appointed to serve on the National Council on Disability, and so he is the first person on the autism spectrum to ever serve on the council; Ne'eman is mentioned several times in Solomon's book, and I'm glad I serendipitously discovered this, as I may have never known how far he's gone (and no one else in our school knew this either, which is mind-boggling) but it's also a bit daunting when a student I taught several years previous has already done more in his short life than I will probably do in the entirety of mine . . . but I can always resort to the ancient theme prominent in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice . . . the idea of status and contract . . . no matter what Ari Ne-eman accomplishes, no matter how many accolades he accumulates, I will always have the status of being his teacher, and I will always be able to say: "I taught that kid everything he knows."

1 comment:

Melanie said...

Love this story. Can't believe no one else at the school talks about him. You gotta spread the word.

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