On Oct. 13, CommunicationFIRST, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, and Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism partnered to release “This Is Not About Me,” a documentary chronicling the educational experiences of Jordyn Zimmerman.
Jordyn is a nonspeaking autistic woman who grew up in Hudson, Ohio. She attended Hudson Public Schools but was removed from general education classes due to her exhibiting challenging behavior, which was a direct result of her not having a reliable way to communicate her thoughts and feeling with others. In those settings, Jordyn was unable to learn with her nondisabled peers because no one believed she could. Her school was lacking the proper supports to encourage her education and failing to presume competence.
After years of struggling to receive the education she deserved, she transferred to Mentor CARES (Cardinal Autism Resource and Education School) in Mentor, Ohio, where she learned how to communicate with an iPad at the age of 18.
After her time at Mentor CARES, Jordyn attended and graduated from Mentor High School, the public school in that neighborhood. She recently graduated from Ohio University with a bachelor’s in education policy and is now getting her master’s in education.
Jordyn’s story is one that I wish everyone could learn about because it shows exactly what inclusive education advocates already know: when you properly support a child and give them the means to succeed, the opportunities seem endless. Jordyn easily could have been a student who slipped through the cracks because no one at her neighborhood school thought an autistic child who displayed challenging behaviors would be able to communicate with others, let alone attend a public school and eventually graduate from college.
But after those at Mentor CARES supported Jordyn on her education journey, her journey became one of inclusion instead of exclusion. Jordyn’s goal is to help others who are going through what she went through. She wants to, and is going to, continue this cycle of inclusion.
Watch Jordyn’s journey in the new documentary, “This Is Not About Me.”
Kayla Kingston is the Communications Specialist for MCIE. A recent graduate of the University of Dayton, she loves reading, writing, and supporting all things inclusion.