Special education student Molly Limmer’s younger sister, Lucy, is 17 years old. Lucy loves goldfish, spaghetti and listening to Barney on repeat. Lucy is very low–functioning on the autism spectrum.
Autism takes a front row seat in Limmer’s life.
“Not a day goes by that I’m not aware of autism and its effects on others,” Limmer said.
It was for this reason that she didn’t think special education was her calling.
“Lucy’s autism has proved to make for a difficult family life, and I didn’t want to make it my entire life by pursuing special education as a career,” Limmer said.
Limmer always knew she wanted to be a teacher. She just didn’t think special education was for her.
“I originally intended on majoring in elementary education,” Limmer said.
However, shortly after coming to Missouri State, she started to reflect on her skills as an educator and as a human being.
“I realized that my experiences could provide a really empathetic way to interact with students with disabilities and their families,” Limmer said.
After a lot of thought and research, Limmer enrolled in special education courses and hasn’t looked back.
“I’ve been loving special education ever since.”
Navigating life as a family with special needs
Limmer’s experience has given her invaluable insight into navigating a special needs classroom. It has also helped her relate better to families like hers.
She has some advice for people who may want to learn more about communicating with individuals with special needs.
“First and foremost, use person-first language,” Limmer said. “It is crucial that we say, ‘a boy with Down Syndrome’ rather than ‘the Down Syndrome boy.’ People are so much more than their disabilities.”
She also invites questions.
“A lot of people stare because they’re confused or intrigued. But when it’s left at that, it can lead to families feeling shame,” Limmer said. “Most people welcome questions because we know there’s a genuine interest.”
Limmer is graduating. She’ll be continuing her career in special education in Carthage, Missouri.
“I will be teaching fifth and sixth grade special education,” Limmer said. “I am thrilled to be a Carthage Tiger and cannot wait to meet my students!”
Her job in Carthage will take her further from her home in Troy, Illinois, and her sister Lucy. But she won’t stray too far.
“I am so thankful for the life Lucy has given me and shown me,” Limmer said. “She is my life, my inspiration.”