Boca Raton Middle School instructor on autism spectrum helps students on spectrum overcome obstacles

BOCA RATON, Fla - John Miller sits across from Anthony Saba in a quiet classroom at Boca Raton Middle School. He is asking the sixth-grader questions about his school work.

"Do you tell the teacher you're just having trouble or do you really need to say more," he asks.

Miller knows what it's like for Saba and the 14 other students he works with who are on the autism spectrum. He also is on the autism spectrum

"It's a matter of being in their shoes that they know that they can come to me and no question is a foolish question," he said.

Most of the students are like Anthony; they're on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum.  When Miller was their age,  few teachers knew the best way to teach him.

"Because I was very talkative, I couldn't sit in my seat. They would put me in the hallway," he said.

Help only came later.

"When I got the support I needed by the time I was in the eighth grade, I  was reading on a college level."

He says it's different today for students on the autism spectrum.

"I would say even though there's still prejudices, even though there's challenges that young people face, is that they have support."

Miller is able to articulate what it's like to be on the autism spectrum, and help the youngsters with their social skills.

"Every person with autism has emotions. The problem is expressing those emotions," he said.

As a teacher facilitator he teaches, supports and encourages them.

"I wanted to give them something back. There were people for me who were there for me, I wanted to be there for them."


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