As we mentioned over the last few weeks, we still can’t believe the responses we received when we first opened up this scholarship program. We are so glad that so many people shared their stories with us, and we know that the future of education is in good hands with all of these up-and-coming teachers.

We’re really excited to share the final winning essay from our Aspiring Educator program with you. This one comes from Rebecca Tamayo, a future teacher who is returning to school after she took some time off to start her family. Check it out below, and then head over to read the grand prize essay from Kimberly Pfeifer, and the other runner up essay from Asaad Fulton.

New Tech and Autism Education

Rebecca Tamayo, Candidate for Bachelor’s in Education from Colorado Christian University

Autism diagnosis’ are on the rise. Being able to detect the syndrome at an earlier age is the number one cause of the sharp rise of Autism children in the U.S. Early intervention is key in treatment. Take, for example, Ben, a two-year- old non-verbal Autism patient. Before his diagnosis, his parents were at a loss with their son. He was not making any progress with talking, social skills, or potty-training. They were lost. Help came from Ben’s doctor, who referred them to a special needs day care facility that would test Ben for speech delays. After 3 weeks of testing and assessments, the psychiatrist at the day care diagnosed Ben as Non-Verbal Autism.

That opened a lot of doors for Ben’s parents. They began to try things differently with Ben. They gave him a non-verbal communicator. He quickly learned how to use it, and communicate with his parents. Not long after, he began to verbally communicate basic needs, like food and drink. Although Ben is still in diapers, he has come a long way with his communication skills. Still mostly unsocial, he learned how to count, most of his alphabet, and colors and shapes. He can navigate most smart phones with ease. His fine motor skills grew at an astounding rate. He made a miraculous turn around, all because of technology.

Ben is my son, and I am very proud of him. As a parent of a non-verbal Autistic child, I can attest to the effectiveness of tech aimed at Autism therapy. My goal as a future educator is to use technology in a classroom for children on the Autism Spectrum to enhance their learning and communication skills to better prepare them for further education goals and a career. This will help make them successful. I would continue to monitor their progress after they leave my class, and offer support to future educators so they can better teach the child. I would teach each child how to cope with adversity in a healthy effective way to help them prepare for adulthood.

Tech has made education very fun and engaging for a lot of students. ASD students are no different. Tech has made it possible for them to communicate effectively and learn a lot of things thought to be impossible. Just look at Ben. His doctor said he would not talk until his teen years. He has begun talking now, at two. Tech has allowed him to learn new things and taught him some sign language. Advanced tech, like Non-Verbal Communicators, allow ASD patients to communicate their thoughts and needs with ease. I could use this tech to teach my students effectively and with ease. No ASD student would be forgotten in my classroom.

One thing that I would love to do for these kids is set up a scholarship fund specifically for students with ASD. This would promote student success in the classroom and beyond.

Having a support system behind them aside from family could be the key to unlocking their true potential. I know my son has a wonderful support system out of the house and I can assure you that is one of the reasons he has made such huge milestones in his progress in such a short time! His teachers and nurses at his day care are very motivating and understanding. I hope to be that person for a lot of other ASD students in the future.

Getting the community engaged in my ASD scholarship fund would be a great way to educate the public about ASD and to show my students that there are a lot of people that believe in them. I would host social events for the public to attend and learn about ASD and offer their support to my students in any way they could. My students would get the social exposure they need that will boost their confidence and communication skills, as well as allow them the chance to find a career they are interested in for their future. Maybe they would like to become coders, and make new programs and tech for other ASD students. Maybe they will become politicians that fight for ASD research and support.

Their futures would be limited only by what they could dream, as the support and motivation for success would be in place and overflowing in my classroom.

Giving these students the boost they need could be the difference between a group home and a successful career. All they need is a little patience, some technology, and a lot of motivation, all of what they could get in my classroom when I get my degree. My son deserves a bright and full future, as do all the children on the Spectrum. Let’s help them achieve it.