Have you ever met a celebrity? You know — someone who you admire so much? Someone who, in your eyes, can do no wrong? Someone who gives you butterflies when you see them?
I’m lucky enough to have met a celebrity. I met her 11 years ago, and to this day, we keep in touch almost daily. I even have her autograph. Every time I see her, my stomach does a little flip, even after all those years. I have her cell phone number and can call her anytime about anything, good or bad.
By this time you’re all probably dying to know who this celebrity is, right? You probably think how lucky I am to be in close touch with someone so wonderful. OK, I’ll reveal my secret. My celebrity, the woman who I admire so much and who gives me butterflies, is my boys’ special education preschool teacher, Ms. Monica.
I first met Ms. Monica when my then 3-year-old was assigned to her class. You see, he was diagnosed with autism, and I thought my world had come to an end. At that time, Coby wasn’t making eye contact, wasn’t talking and was hardly communicating. In her firm yet gently manner, Ms. Monica saved — yes, saved — my Coby’s life. He blossomed and grew and thrived, and by the time he went to kindergarten two years later, he was mainstreamed. Today he’s in eighth grade with no interventions needed. I truly believe this is all because Ms. Monica was his teacher when it mattered.
Enter my 4-year-old, Liam. When Liam was diagnosed with autism about a year and a half ago and was ready to enter the preschool system, I knew in my heart that he had to go to Ms. Monica’s class. I called her and we chatted, and when the time came I made a request for Liam to be placed in her class. When Liam started preschool, he had only a handful of spoken words, and those he had were impossible to understand. Liam had no social skills, no self help skills and flapped so hard I swore he’d fly away.
Tomorrow I’m registering Liam for kindergarten — a mainstream classroom. And I’m transferring him to the same school that Ms. Monica works at, even though it’s not our base school, so she can keep an eye on him. Ms. Monica will forever be my favorite celebrity. To me she can do no wrong. She’s my hero, the one who gave both of my boys a chance. She never gave up on my boys; she cheered them on. She starred in the movie that is their lives. For that I will forever be thankful.
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