Being a special ed teacher is often thought of as a difficult, self-sacrificing profession, and with good reason. The challenges are often great while the monetary compensation is minimal, and the work requires many years of higher education, a thick skin, and a great ability to connect with others. Today, though, special ed is not just about overcoming challenges but about celebrating differences, and the ways in which people can bring unique skills to the world.
Education is, for many, an entry point into the world. It can even save lives and it allows people to improve their earning capacity. Importantly, it can also provide a life-changing measure of independence to people who are neuro-atypical or who deal with any form of mental health issues. With one in four US adults suffering from some form of mental illness and one in seventeen US adults suffering from severe mental illness, many people need different forms of education.
With the right support, neuro-atypical people can make a huge impact on the world. Historical figures such as Beethoven, Jane Austen, Einstein, and Van Gogh may have had Aspergers while Howard Hughes (who suffered from OCD) became a renowned businessman, movie producer, and pilot. With the right education and resources, neuro-atypical people can experience a huge improvement in their quality of life.3k