A Letter to My Son and His Friends, Graduates of the Class of 2021

Congratulations, graduates! 

Not only have you graduated in the midst of a global pandemic under extreme circumstances of social isolation, strict quarantines, and frequent cancellations; but you have done so with many academic achievements and honors, athletic awards, and college scholarships.

You have given yourselves and your families so many reasons to be proud! 

While these achievements should be acknowledged and celebrated, I believe there is something you have demonstrated that is even more important, your kind heart! 

From the time I first met all of you, you have shown my family nothing but kindness and acceptance. 

You knew that our daughter Anna is severely autistic, yet it didn’t phase you in the least. 

I’m sure you noticed the strange noises she makes, her hand flapping, her quirky movements. You never stared. You smiled and said hi to her, knowing you probably wouldn’t get a greeting in return.

You came to our house many times through the years. 

I’m sure there were times you heard crying and screaming, yet you still came back and didn’t make my son feel like an outcast because his sister was so different. He never had to worry about his friends making rude comments or not feeling comfortable around his family. 

He knew he would be accepted and never felt embarrassed.

I will not forget how you volunteered in Anna’s class for classroom peer activities and field day. 

You took a pie in the face to make her and her classmates smile. You worked hard to engage the students and help them communicate and have fun. You didn’t flinch when they cried or had meltdowns. You tried to comfort them and waited patiently until they were calm. 

A few of you told me you wanted to major in special ed after spending time with Anna and her classmates. You have no idea how much that warmed my heart!

I remember the spring break trips we took. 

Anna loved swimming in the pool and the beach. She would get so excited to be in the water that all social norms went out the window. She often swam too close to others, not understanding personal space. Her loud, excited noises echoed up to the ceiling in the indoor pool area. She splashed around with her hands flapping, not noticing others around her. You never noticed or stared. You never seemed irritated. You just said hi to her. She even got a few high fives. 

She could never communicate it, but I know that made her so happy!

Whenever she attended school or athletic events, once again you greeted her and treated her like every other sibling! These events are very loud and chaotic, not the ideal environment for someone who suffers greatly from sensory processing disorder. 

Even when you saw her struggling, you made her feel welcomed and didn’t stare.

So as you walk across that stage and into your bright futures, I want to congratulate you once again! I hope you are proud of all of your accomplishments and excited about the future successes you are sure to achieve. 

But know that it’s your kind heart and the way you treat others that matters most! 

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you, I will never forget your kindness!

Catherine Berg lives in Shelby Township, Michigan, with her husband and four awesome children.  She works part time as a waitress and substitute teacher.

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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, subscribe for exclusive videos, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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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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