As the parent of a child with special needs, I cannot help but be an overemotional ball of over protectiveness most of the time with my son. Some see it as over protective while I see it as being my child’s voice, until he finds his own. I must be my child’s eyes, until he can tell me what goes on around him each day. I’m very discerning of the people I allow to surround my child, because he is non-verbal and cannot tell me how they treat him. I must be my child’s advocate on every front, because that is the sacred calling that God has hand-picked for me.
It is because of this sacred calling, that I watch and I protect. I want to send this message to his teacher and the ALS Team who work with my son: I see what you are doing.
I see you every morning, Monday-Friday at the same time as you greet my little boy in the drop off line at school. I see how you wave to him and smile through the windshield before approaching the car. I see how you approach him as you open his door to unbuckle his car seat. I see how you ask him about his morning. I see his excitement about another day as he wraps his flapping little arms around you when you lift him out of our car. I see his excitement as he waves bye to me blowing me kisses before going to class. I see you in class pictures sitting with my child in your lap. I see you in videos working to teach my child. I see how he loves to blow you kisses and loves to hug you. I see the gentle hand you use to help guide him from the car into the classroom and how you keep a watchful eye on him to make sure he is ALWAYS safe.
I know that you have been there for my child as he struggles to the ground in an Autistic meltdown. I heard how you placed your hands under his head to help protect it from the hard ground. I heard how you have him a safe place in the classroom for when he’s feeling overwhelmed. I know that you have walked the empty halls a million times with my little one to help calm his overwhelmed mind. I know that you help my child with the smallest of tasks such as cutting up his food, going to the bathroom, and changing his clothes after an accident or sensory activity that he had a little too much fun with. In the short time he’s been with you, you have learned his personality, his silly quirks, his strengths and his weaknesses. I can see what you are doing.
You are building a relationship with my precious child. You are growing a daily trust in a little boy who feels as though the world is coming at him every second of the day. You are pouring yourself into a child that can rarely offer up a “thank you.”
Please allow me to remind you of something that you already know: my child is brilliant. He can sense love and compassion a mile away. On the other hand, he also knows if someone is working with him because they have to verses if they want to. Xander does not learn well in a hostile situation. He has to feel comfortable with the people that surround him. You are partially responsible for creating an atmosphere that is conducive to my child’s ability to learn. I can see that you’re teaching him sign language. Thank you for loving him so well. Thank you for caring. Yes, I can see what you are doing.
I know there are days that are rewarding. I can see the love and trust my child has for you and I hope you can see that too. I also know that there are days that are exhausting. Thank you for not giving up on him because of your unconditional love for children like mine, my little boy knows that each day is a new day and that he is worth showing up for.
I see what you are doing and your hard work does not go unnoticed. My child notices you. I notice you. I have been given this incredible gift of being the protector of my special boy, I watch so very carefully. My precious Xander cannot verbally tell me about his experience at school, I cannot help but take in every little detail about what I see and I see what you are doing.
I am not sure what the world’s perception is about a Special Education or Life Skills Teacher or Teacher’s Aides. I’m not sure if people realize all that you do. I believe that one of the most overlooked and underpaid positions is that of a Special Education Teacher and Paraprofessional. If I could, I would give each one of you a big raise and a superhero cape. But because I cannot, all I can offer is my heartfelt gratitude. I want you to know that I see what you are doing, and I am forever thankful for you.
I count myself so very blessed that Xander has such an amazing ALS Team who work tirelessly with Xander and with our family to make sure that he succeeds. Over the years Xander hasn’t had a teacher or aides in his classroom who have had a tremendous impact on him or his success in the classroom like he does now. Each person on his ALS Team have thrown themselves in 110% to loving and caring for children like mine. It is because of this amazing teacher and her aides that my son has had an environment of support and love. I have no doubt that Xander would not have overcome and learned as much as he already has without these incredible educators.