Autism advocate, Tae Blaich, finds passion in special education and aims to improve support for students with similar needs


Photo caption: The special education had a daylight prom for the students, Tae Blaich (photo in center) dressed up with them.

She tries to answer the next problem on her algebra test, but just cannot seem to focus. The boy sitting next to her taps his pencil on his desk, and to her, it gets louder and louder with each tap. She begins to panic when she sees that she has thirty minutes left on the test and is only on question 5. Her mind races and she gets up from the chair to go ask the teacher for more time. She wanted to understand her inability to focus, and her panic, and her need for more time, but no one could help her put a finger on the problem. 

That is, until Taylor Blaich was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism during her sophomore year. Her diagnosis gave her relief and everything started to make sense in her world. 

Blaich still works through the challenges of school, but now she has a support system and a framework to lean on.

“The social aspect is pretty hard. Different classroom aspects [are difficult], focusing on getting my work done on time, making sure I’m on task and that I can graduate on time,” Blaich said.

Jill Pratt, an intervention specialist who mentors Blaich, loved witnessing Blaich’s transformation and is proud of how far Blaich has come in her journey through special education. Pratt said Blaich’s diagnosis was “exciting and cool. It was like all these things made sense.”

“It’s been a complete evolution, but it didn’t take long. There was this opening when Tae looked beyond [herself] to take care of other people. That’s a huge sign of maturity and it’s a huge sign of being aware of the world around [her],” Pratt said.

With the support of her mentors, Blaich developed a passion for special education and now helps out in the special needs room whenever she can. 

“I am a student aid with the MD classes downstairs. I get to do activities with them throughout the week. I get to help them with the jolly trolley, and I get to hang out with them and the therapy dogs. I also do little activities with them whenever they have free time,” Blaich said. 

Pratt says at first there were a couple of students who needed some fun help, something to stay occupied by learning, which Blaich helped with, but then it turned into something more. 

That’s when Blaich’s delight sparked into the idea of becoming a teacher. 

Blaich and Pratt have a connection that goes beyond the classroom. Blaich loves the teacher community and has always been a teacher kind of person. 

“They’ve just helped me overcome every problem I have ever had, like I am not a very social person and they helped me overcome that,” Blaich said. 

Blaich understands the difficulties that come from wanting to be a teacher and has even faced backlash from teachers, but still wants to pursue it anyways. 

“I have heard so many teachers’ opinions about how I should not become a teacher when I grow up. I do not know how being a teacher would work for me, but I know I want to do something in the special education field,” Blaich said. 

Blaich’s mother and father, Pam and Brad Blaich, say that Blaich is an amazing young woman who is intelligent and incredibly observant. 

Both of her parents agreed that her diagnosis seemed to unlock her spirit. Her father explained that she came alive not only as a successful student, but as a young lady who had just discovered who she was. 

“Her diagnosis brought her closer to some of the staff at school, which ultimately led to her volunteering in the special ed room. She feels like she has a special connection, and has a loving empathy for other people with special needs,” Brad said. 

Despite being diagnosed with high functioning autism, Blaich will attend Xavier this fall and major in special education. 

“I think it is about more of the experience than how much you make. I do not have to have an adventurous life if I do not want to. If I wake up and am motivated to go to work and love what I do everyday, I will feel like I am contributing to the world,” Blaich said.