To the Teachers of the Little Ones With Special Needs
I don’t know your background. I don’t know why you chose this profession. I don’t know where your inner strength comes from or what keeps you going. I don’t know if you will keep doing this or if you will move on to other jobs. I don’t know how much of your day you take home with you at night.
But this is what I do know:
I know you care for our children as if they were your own. I know you celebrate every single little success they have because you know just how hard and long they had to work to achieve it. I know you watch them develop, and your hopes for them go far beyond your classroom.
I know you hear the same news stories I do. I know you cringe when you hear of a teacher who hurt a nonverbal child. I know your heart aches that you have to work so hard to earn parents’ trust, and you wish they knew that for every one abusive teacher of special needs children there are a hundred more who would do anything and everything to protect our children. And because you are that teacher who would do anything to protect these kids, you have no problem earning our children’s trust and earning our trust.
I know you have hard days. I know you juggle the needs of many children at once and have to work constantly to maintain the peace in the classroom. I know you stay up late working on things for the next day and stay at work late to make sure your classroom is just so for tomorrow. I know you have to work harder than your fellow teachers of typical children to think ahead for the day and to try to see and prevent potential triggers and obstacles. I know the hard days have been physical, but you press on, you don’t lose your cool and you hope tomorrow will be better.
I know you probably have days when you wonder if all of your patience and heart and perseverance are noticed. I know you might have days when you want to throw in the towel and move on to something easier.
I hope you know I see your passion for these children. I see the excitement in your eyes when mine does something new or overcomes something that once would have set him back. I see how hard you work to ensure he has successful days. I see you on the hard days, and I know when he comes home upset, you may have endured a day of screaming and crying. And I know you did everything in your power to calm him.
Know that you’ve given me a break when I needed it the most. Know that you’ve given peace of mind about one aspect of our day to a parent who has to worry about so many other things. Know that your love and acceptance of my child is a welcome change from the rejection and isolation we so often face. Know that every success our children will go on to have is the result of a foundation you helped lay. Know that every struggle and every accomplishment in your classroom are stepping stones to a future they couldn’t have had without you.
I know you wonder if you make a difference. Know that you do.
A Special Needs Mom
This post originally appeared on From the Bowels of Motherhood.