A teacher is a parent’s biggest saving grace and lifeline in the education, both social and informational, of their child. Most teachers even view their students as “their kids”. In a special needs classroom, a teacher and the aids, are a vital help and resource for the special needs parent. The educational needs of a special needs child are so huge, that it is almost impossible for a parent to tackle all of it. Sometimes you have a teacher that just doesn’t fit with you or your child; some times it is just a not-an-ideal-fit issue, sometimes it is a parent/teacher/student relationship clash. Mutual communication and respect are necessary for a working parent/teacher relationship that is a lifeline for the child. Sometimes that relationship is slightly broken. Thankfully, all my son’s (and daughter’s) teachers were amazing. I loved and miss them all. They have loved my son even when he acted un-lovable. They saw through his bad behavior and saw a boy they would call “sweet” and “special”. They loved to see his laugh and smile. This was who they saw as the true person. His behavior was just symptoms of that sweet boy’s frustrated hurting heart.My daughter, and typical child in a typical classroom, has had every teacher be one who was amazing and caring. Each year I cry at the end of it knowing she would be leaving. In both children, I have been lucky…
But others have not.
Dear New special needs Teacher,
The first thing I want to say is that my son is not just another student in yet another year. He is my baby, who I birthed, raised, fought for, and loved for all his life. I am entrusting him to you. Whereas after this year will be yet another year of the same for you, it will be one less for my son. We are running out of time. Each year is precious to us and one less year we have to get this kind of intense help for our son. Every second is like gold to us. I know you have a lot of knowledge about the subject of autism. I too know a lot about it. I am an expert, a specialist, in my son. I am an expert in his type of autism. My insight is very important. I may not be a teacher, but I am also someone to be respected as knowledgeable. I am not to be eye-rolled at, because I do see it, and I am not to be dismissed. I am hurt by pandering and dismissive speech because I have worked so hard for my son, and I believe I know a thing or two that is worth truly and actively listening to. Your way may not always be the best way. Just as I may learn better ways from you as well. I can be your biggest ally and supporter, but I will have to be one of ‘those’ parents if I can’t be heard. I hate that, but I am running out of time. I don’t have any other option. Each moment is like oxygen to the lungs. Precious and essential. I will always speak with respect and restraint in moments of conflict, but I don’t have the luxury of just biding time until the next year and next classroom. My son is here, I am here, because we need your help. But, you won’t be able to do the best you can without my help. I know my son inside and out. I have had 12 years of practice and experience, that you just can’t get in one year. I have important insight to offer and, if I may be so bold, that you need. I appreciate the hard work and hours invested that you do by choice. If I had a choice, I would not choose autism for my son. I am grateful that, even though you didn’t have to, you chose to help those who need so much. It is an admirable career choice. I appreciate and recognize your experience. I hope that you will see my son and his person-hood defined by his good traits. I hope you will understand his difficulties and bad behaviors as the signs of a frustrated, struggling, and afraid child. I hope you see his smile. I hope you don’t miss his kindness and care. I hope you smile at his laugh. How his eyes light up with joy at his preferred activity; not just seeing the future struggle at trying to get him to move on from it. He is my baby, my beautiful boy, inside and out, of whom I am placing much of his future and trajectory in your hands. I am ready to help you in your job as best I can. Please treat me as an equal, not just a parent that doesn’t “get it”. I do “get it”. Very much so, very much so.
A caring, loving, fearful, hopeful parent
As always, positive comments are welcome. Negative hurtful comments will be trashed before I can even finish reading them. I have many readers who are emotionally vulnerable, and I will not post comments that will further harm.
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