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Open Letter to my Middle School Speech Therapist, Mrs. Smith

Dear Mrs. Smith,

I hope retirement has been going well and hope you see this letter one day online. If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't have grown my social and communication skills. I'm so grateful you created a social skills program for students with disabilities when I was in middle school. I learned to express my needs when interacting with my family, friends, colleagues, etc., as well as learn to initiate conversations with people in general. Not only that, I've gained friendships and maintained them with many of my best friends today, and I've been in a wonderful relationship with my boyfriend of 3+ years. I will always keep the lessons I've learned in your social skills program and apply them into social situations.

If you knew me today, I'm not the same girl as you knew in middle school. Recently, I graduated from Purdue University Global with a Bachelor's degree in Science of Psychology in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). I've been working as a paraprofessional for students with disabilities in a public school district in FL and just gained a new job in which I'll be moving up with the same public school district. I start my new job as a special education (ESE) behavior specialist in January of the new year! Not only that, I passed an ABA exam earlier this year to gain my certification as a registered behavior technician (RBT). I've been providing ABA therapy as an RBT for autistic clients part-time outside of the school district I work for full-time, as well as running my own professional business as an autistic self-advocate and blogger of my own website, "The World of Autism". I've shared personal perspectives on the autism spectrum, informative stories for education purposes, and conducted guest interviews featuring peoples' experiences with autism and those who know someone with autism.

You are one of the many people in my life who helped me towards where I'm at today, and now I'm helping all in the neurodiverse community. Thank you for having been part of my life journey!

Best wishes,

Michelle Vinokurov


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