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LCC International University > News and Events archive > God bless mental health professionals

God bless mental health professionals

2024-03-08

I would love to be able to teach every student on my classlists. I would be thrilled if I saw improvements in students’ writing skills over time. I never expect perfection; however, I love to see improvement. My goal for each lesson, each week, each semester, is that, over time, students learn something. Maybe one student learns how to punctuate a sentence correctly. Maybe another student learns how to write more coherently. Maybe another student grows in her confidence to contribute to a group discussion.

“Thank heaven” that I am not their last teacher. My freshmen will have other teachers next year, and the next year and the next year. They will continue to learn and they will continue to improve. They may never become perfect writers (is there such a thing anyway?) We are aiming for growth, not perfection.  

Sadly, I can’t teach all students. I don’t have the skills to teach students who are severely autistic. I don’t have the skills to teach students who are socially and emotionally unable to manage their own actions in the class. I have never been trained to teach mentally challenged students. While, I would not be opposed to learning that skill set, I am not equipped at this point.  

This year, a young man on my classlist was on the autism spectrum. Not severe autism; he could control basic functions. He could behave appropriately most of the time. But within the first week, I could see that his mind did not function as a ‘normal’ student.  

I tried. I really tired. I tired giving super clear, simple instructions just for him. I drew concepts in pictures. I tried to be firm and straight forward with him. I tried offering extra time to complete his assignments. I did my very, very best to be kind and patient with him during the lessons, especially when his behavior was unexpected and unusual. 

And I must applaud my entire class of students who were kind, patient, generous, and tolerant of this young man. It was clear to all of us that he “just was not” comprehending the material or the instructions.  

Thankfully our university has an amazing team of professionals who are experts in dealing with students who are differently abled. They took time, they listened, they coached, they offered support, and they garnered the support of other mental health professionals. Sadly, but rightly so, it was determined that we simply don’t have the support for this young man at our school.  

May God richly bless the professionals who can care for students with mental health issues. And may God bless the young people who struggle with their mental health each day.

Author: Robin Gingerich, Ph.D., MA TESOL Program Director at LCC International University.

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