One of the most impactual things to happen in Mari’s life was her schooling. From the time she was only two-years-old, Mari started attending the Early Intervention Program that was part of the Chicago Heights School District. She was apart of this program until we moved in September 2004 to DeKalb. She started in an Early Childhood program there but the teacher, while she was a really nice woman, was very honest with me when she said she didn’t know what to do to help Mari and her autism. Of course this was a major red flag for me. Because she told me I was able to talk with the Special Education Director of the DeKalb School District. As a result Mari started attended Julie Ahlbach classroom they called the Multi-handicapped classroom. It was in this classroom that Mari grew the most. She learned how to read and do simple math. Her attention span grew. She overall blossomed in this new environment.
To me, special education teachers are a rare breed, as they say. It takes a very special person to teach someone with a disability and especially one with autism. My goal someday, hopefully soon, is to created a special foundation called the Mariana Tunstall Scholarship Foundation where I raise money to help give individuals scholarships who have the desire to teach children with autism. I plan to have the proceed from my book for my portion all to go to this scholarship foundation as I think there is a huge need for autism teachers.