A Teacher’s Message to Children and Their families

This is difficult to write for many reasons. Most of all because there are simply too many people that I have have encountered over the past 12 years in my work as an early childhood special education teacher, ABA therapist, and early intervention specialist.

Too many amazing children, moms, dads, grandparents, foster parents, siblings, daycare teachers, caregivers, fellow educators and therapists, to thank.

Throughout my career, I have focused on working with kids on the autism spectrum, from birth – five years of age. Because of privacy concerns, I cannot include pictures, but if I could you would see some of the most beautiful little faces you have ever seen.

I am so incredibly thankful for all the children I have been lucky enough to work with over the years.

I didn’t know what autism was that first time I was sent down to substitute in the preschool autism classroom, but that day changed my life. I felt an instant connection with the kids and I immediately knew what I was supposed to do with the rest of my life.

I’ve worked with a lot of children over the years, across all abilities, with a great variety of strengths, needs, and interests.  Every single child has taught me something new, pointed out a new way to look at the world, and challenged me to understand how THEIR brain was wired so I could try to unlock the key to how he or she learned.

I learned that instead of just seeing a child stimming in the corner and interrupting the behavior, I should take the time to look at what HE sees, like the magic of dust bunnies shimmering in the sunlight, the rain dancing as it hits the puddle, or the exciting march of the school buses as they line up each afternoon.

I learned that although it felt like tedious, exhausting work repeatedly climbing up the steps, bottom down, position first one leg and then the other in front, prompt “ready, set, GO!” down that slide over and over and over again, there was no greater feeling than catching “my kiddo” at the bottom the first time she was able to sequence the steps and do it independently.

I’m thankful for the children who taught me patience, at every second of the day from start to finish.

I’m thankful for the children who worked so very hard with me to communicate with a sound, picture, approximation, gesture, sign, device, eye gaze or word. I’m thankful for the kids, who never knew they had goals to meet, but worked and played and persevered to crush them anyway. I’m so thankful for the children teaching me how to look at the world differently.

Sometimes on my head, upside down, sideways, contorted into ways I didn’t think possible, and always reminding me to slow down, watch and listen, think outside of the box, with an open mind and heart.

Thank you, little ones.  You made me a better mom, teacher, person.

I am so incredibly thankful to all the moms, dads, siblings, grandparents, foster parents and caregivers who trusted me to care for their child.

I learned so much from each one, not just about their child, but about their challenges and struggles, their hopes and dreams, their greatest fears. For some, I suspected a diagnosis was coming before they did, and we walked that very painful path together.

So many absolutely amazing families, so many heartfelt hugs, so many shared tears.

I’m thankful for those who have opened their homes to me so we could work together to build meaningful skills for their child across home, school and community settings.

I’m thankful for the moms and dads who asked tough questions, made me do research, strategize more, find additional resources, who pushed me to look and learn beyond my current scope of knowledge. There have been so many difficult goodbyes as families progressed to the next teacher, therapist, or school.

My heart ached with each goodbye, as the children and parents would move forward without me, up to kindergarten and beyond, and to build new relationships with their new teacher or therapist.

Yet their child would forever remain a little one in my memory. I’m so thankful for those memories, those relationships, brief as might be, for all the genuine, often raw, beautiful human emotions.

Thank you families, for sharing your children, your homes, your hearts.

A recent health situation has made me that much more appreciative of my time with the kids and their families.

I’m not sure what the future holds, if I’ll be able to return to this work that I love, and if so what that might look like.

I’m used to being the one who takes care of others, who tries to make the road easier for those I’m working with.  Now the shoe is on the other foot, and it’s been quite humbling.  I’m so thankful for those who do good for others, for the therapists who have been so amazing to me.

I’m incredibly thankful to you, Kate, as you do so much for kids, parents, teachers, and raise awareness about autism spectrum near and far.

You are one incredible woman!

“’Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say.  I say that one a lot.  Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.” – Alice Walk

(Editor’s Note: This article was provided by Laurie and is part of Cooper’s, ‘I’m Thankful For You’ Campaign.)

Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook and subscribe to our newsletter.

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  • Flor Perez

    November 18, 2017 at 1:49 pm
    Reply

    What a beautiful message, I cried through the entire reading. It really touched me. Thank you for all these wonderful people that choose to take […] Read MoreWhat a beautiful message, I cried through the entire reading. It really touched me. Thank you for all these wonderful people that choose to take the time to learn & try to understand children with autism. Read Less

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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