For me, teachers are HEROES. “No if’s and’s or but’s.” If you are a teacher, or work with kids for a living, give yourself a great big hug from me – you deserve it. And there is a special place in my heart for the folks who jump into the autism pool each day.
Special education teachers ROCK.
My younger daughter has been receiving services since she was eleven months old, and I wish I could name for you every person that has come into our home and worked with her at school – but that would be boring for you I’m sure. Just know that the list is very long, but each one of those people, in some way has touched her life, touched OUR lives, and shaped the person she is now and who she will become.
My girl takes the bus to school everyday, but I pick her up in the afternoon since I’m out to pick up her siblings as well. One day a few years ago when I was having a particularly hard time, her teacher came out to the car for pick up early to talk to me about something. Instead, she found me sitting in the car crying, and we ended up really talking. I was feeling overwhelmed by life and autism wasn’t helping.
She said to me something I’ll never forget. She looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Those of us who work here, we went to school for this. We trained years for this. We have CHOSEN to be here and work with these children. And we’re energetic and engaged with your kids because we can go home and decompress.
YOU DID NOT CHOOSE THIS. You didn’t train for this. You don’t get to leave this ever. It’s with you all day and all night, even when your daughter’s at school. Remember that.”
This teacher’s words have stayed with me and given me comfort and strength whenever I start to sell myself short. Her words gave me permission to ask for help. Her words gave me permission to try and find things to help ME decompress while my daughter is at school. I learned it’s ok to ask questions. I usually go to parent/teacher meetings with a list now. Hey, I’ve got three or four experts sitting with me, I might as well pick their brains! So we don’t just talk about how my daughter is doing in school, we talk about what’s going on at home too and I get as much feedback from them as time will allow. And those teachers/therapists have given ME incredible support over the years.
There was the teacher who volunteered to take my daughter into HER home after school and bake cookies, to give me an hour or so with my other kids, who at the time really needed me and quiet time at home without their sister.
The occupational therapist who took the time to send home holiday gift list suggestions specific for each one of her students.
The speech therapist who got yelled at for advocating for my daughter to the case manager when she wasn’t supposed to speak “out of her area of expertise.”
The social worker who sat with me in her office after a parent support group meeting while I cried and cried at the depth of my depression, who got her computer out and helped me find a psychiatrist.
Physical therapists, occupational therapists, developmental specialists, speech therapists, teachers’ aides, behaviorists, social workers that go into classes to teach social skills, and of course head teachers: you are angels. You have chosen to be with our kids. You have trained and trained and keep on learning how best to help them. And for that, you have a very special place in my heart. Like I wrote above – YOU ROCK.
When I say “teachers” I don’t just mean the person at the front of the class, I mean everyone who participates in a special education environment – aides, therapists and consultants most certainly teach our kids as well! And I know that special education encompasses more than just autism, but since that’s my world, that’s where I’m coming from.