Noah Dudas, a second-grader with autism, was expelled from his specialized school for exhibiting “unmanageable behaviors.”
His parents, Dan and Lauren, felt broken and helpless. They felt that if someone took the time to understand his needs at school more, he wouldn’t be as combative.
But everything changed when Noah was transferred to Avon East Elementary in Ohio and met his teacher, Michelle Szczepanski. Michelle provided Noah with the care and support he needed in an academic environment. She was the first person to realize that Noah thrived most when he had a creative outlet.
Michelle keeps a “shout-out bucket” in her classroom. Students are able to write compliments to their peers on pieces of paper and place them in the bucket.
One day, Noah was ecstatic to receive four different shout-outs, including one thanking him for teaching the valuable lesson that “being different doesn’t matter.”
Noah came home from school that day with a mission. He wanted to express his gratitude towards his teachers and classmates in the form of a very special creation.
Dan and Lauren said Noah was so serious about his special project that he physically pushed out them of his bedroom so he could get to work.
Once he was happy with the end result, Noah went to school and had his classmates gather around the computer so they could see his expression of gratitude.
Footage provided by WJW Cleveland