By Erin Balaette:
Just because we have problems doesn’t mean that the world should end. I had a lot of problems, and still do, but I continue to fight and achieve.
I was born with autism, a neurodevelopmental disorder which cause nervous disorders and limits my ability to read and remember things. It also affects my speech and I am not able to communicate very well.
I love studying, but because of my problems, it became a big challenge. It is not easy for me to remember things, or be able to express myself clearly. Because of that, others used to make fun of me, even my teachers used to see me as ‘abnormal’. I studied up to class 10th but then failed 11th and 12th three times. I almost gave up, but then I thought, just because I have been made a little differently by God, does that mean I should give up? I pushed myself forward and managed to pass with 50% marks.
Higher studies became even harder for me, no one was willing to take out the time to teach me. Then, two years ago, I met Priyanka ma’am through an online portal. She was kind enough to take me under her wing, train me, and teach me everything I know today.
For two years, she taught me all the subjects in my MBA course. Since I am in the U.S and she in India, she would stay up till late in the night to carry out lessons with me.
Management subjects are very hard, and I particularly struggled with finance and accounts, but ma’am was patient with me, she used simple and plain language to help me understand all the concepts. Because my speech isn’t very strong, she encouraged me to draw to explain myself better. That helped me a lot. She’d help me visualise concepts. For example, Starbucks, she used to tell me, “coffee is something we have every day.” A company called Starbucks, that has a queen in its logo and then I would tell instantly that the logo had green and white along with black.
Despite being in separate countries, and never meeting each other, she explained things beautifully, something no other teacher has ever been able to do for me.
That’s where my journey started, and there is no looking back now. I obtained my MBA with a distinction. I have now set my eyes on completing a PhD.
Not only did she help me in my education, she has also made me a more confident person in life. She taught me how to face people, thanks to her, even if people make fun of me, I know how to deal with it. I have moved past that to be good at my job. Even my boss is extremely pleased with my work.
My teacher is everything for me, she turned me from someone who saw herself as a failure, she made me someone I am proud to be. She has motivated me every step of the way, and I hope I can do that for someone else one day. I want to be just like Priyanka ma’am. I want to teach others like me, be to them what she has been to me.
A special note from Erin’s teacher
As a teacher, my biggest challenge was to mould myself to be able to teach Erin. I started seeing Youtube videos on how to understand the behavior of autistic children and their traits and most importantly the methodology which they understand at their best.
Erin is a special girl. She’s naturally good at numbers. She can do ratios to formulas in a fraction of a second. She loves to study. Her passion is to learn and to enhance herself. She has a spirit in her that she wants to do something in life, achieve and give a message to the world that even such kids can achieve against all odds.
I would say that ultimately Erin’s success lies in her and her hard work that she has put in. As a teacher, I have only motivated her and taught her what needs to be fulfilled as a student.
A teacher always feels proud when their students do very well. My journey with Erin is a beautiful journey that made me evolve as a teacher. It made me realize that I can do a lot more and inspire people like Erin to come out of their boundaries as the sky is the limit for such kids.
Today, I am a proud teacher and I wish her success in everything that she does.
Note: On Erin’s request, we helped her write her story so she could better convey what she wanted to express.