My sister Mary has a snake phobia of sorts; she has had some horrible snake nightmares. I'm happy to say that snakes don't bug me that much. While I don't mind a cute little garter snake, once they grow beyond a half-inch in diameter, I'm pretty much done with snakes. So, when I found out that one of my colleagues had a pet corn snake in her classroom, I wasn't interested in meeting her.
That is, until I learned that Stella is magic. Okay, not in a presto-change-o way, but the "magic spell" kind of way. You see, no matter what kind of mood some autistic students are in, if they spend any time with Stella, they are transformed.
The first time I met Stella, Charlie introduced her to me. "No, thanks. I'll let you hold her," was my response to his pressing her into my personal space. His demeanor was calm, warm, even affectionate. Seeing his obvious love for her, we decided to use her as a calming technique. Now, after lunch-recess (which can be too stimulating for Charlie), he stops at Stella's and holds her for about five minutes before heading to his next class. Seeing Charlie arrive to class with a smile, ready to work, is a wonderful thing, and I know it's Stella's doing.
So the next time you think snakes are evil, remember Stella. As snakes go, she's a real charmer.P.S. The student pictured is not the student mentioned in this post is not Charlie; he's just a very willing model! :)