Dear Teacher, From, Your Forgotten Student

Dear Teacher,

My son was the one you forgot to acknowledge at the concert last night.  You said such nice things about all the other seniors that are graduating. You knew where they were going to college and had at least one personal thing to say about them. It was a really nice tribute.

Many of these young adults will be going to Ivy League schools.  I’m willing to bet that most of these students are top students with high academic marks.  I’m fairly certain that these same students have been told and will be told “Congratulations for being accepted to _____” over and over again in the upcoming weeks and months as they transition from high school to college.

These same students have probably received other awards throughout their high school years and possibly their whole life.   Maybe not, but I’m fairly certain they have been recognized in one way or another far more times than my child has or will.

I’m fairly certain of this because my child has Autism.  He didn’t have it when he was born, but he ‘caught it.’ However one ‘gets’ autism is still up for debate, but my child was perfect, like each and every one of the students who were recognized today…until he wasn’t.

I’ve watched my child struggle through life, re-learning how to talk and navigate through his sensory overloaded world with his erratically wired autistic brain and sensory-nervous system.  I remember the day his diagnosis was confirmed like it was yesterday.  My husband and I mourned the loss of the child we had (which could have easily been any one of the children you recognized today) and embraced the child we acquired.

We’ve done everything we could to try to undo the damage that was done to his brain and body and he has made tremendous strides but my hope of him ever being the adult he was born to be are gone.

I am happy for the other parents…I truly am.  I just want you to know that those kids will be told time and time again how great they are, how proud others are of them, will work hard (or not) and make good grades in school, will enter into promising careers and will marry and have brilliant, beautiful children of their own.

My child will not win any awards for academics or be congratulated for being accepted into any university.  My child will graduate from high school with a diploma (which, if you asked me 10 years ago, I would not have believed he would ever get).  This graduation is possibly his only graduation.  The opportunity to be recognized in front of an audience was likely his lone opportunity…. and he didn’t get it.

I want you to know that my child will be going to a Community College in the fall and taking remedial classes in math and English and then pursuing a degree (hopefully… maybe).  He will be living independently in an apartment on his own.  He will be getting job training this summer so that he can be employed in a minimum wage job while he goes to college.

For this, I am so grateful and happy that my autistic child has independence in his future (so many others don’t).

This time of year is hard for me as a parent.  I can’t help but feel a little jealous of my friends and colleagues who have children like the ones you acknowledged and recognized tonight.

I want you to know that kids like my son and any other child who is not ever recognized, are the ones that need to hear that they are appreciated too and acknowledged for their accomplishments no matter how “insignificant” they may seem because, that might be the one and only time they are recognized.

I want you to know, that I don’t blame you for forgetting my son nor do I hold any ill feelings for you.

I appreciate the opportunity to say what my fellow special needs parents would like to and I hope this letter helps you remember another “less memorable” student who needs to hear they are memorable and appreciated in the future.

Sincerely,

A PROUD PARENT of a “Forgotten” Child

Written by, Yvonne Knighton

Yvonne Knighton is the mom to an amazing adult son with autism. She is a Naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist in San Antonio, TX. You can learn more about Yvonne by visiting her website or by following her on Facebook.

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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 our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook and subscribe to our newsletter.

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  • Jamalyn

    May 15, 2018 at 9:56 pm
    Reply

    Beautiful piece of art in words, Yvonne. Dillon is pretty great, and he is lucky to have you and Tim as his people!

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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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