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To My Autistic Son's New Teacher, Before the First Day of School

Dear teacher,

You are going to be my son’s teacher¬†for this upcoming school year. He is an amazing little boy who has grown by¬†leaps and bounds. He is funny, he loves to dance and he has a passion for¬†music.

My son wants to be accepted by his peers. This can be a challenge at times, because my son does has difficulty with personal space. Children may think he is being mean when really he is just trying to get their attention. You see, my son is on the autism spectrum and also has ADHD. My son has difficulties with transition, self-regulation and impulsiveness. With all of this being said, you would be absolutely amazed if you saw where my son was a couple of years ago and where he is today.

The author's son in a classroom

Two years ago my son barely spoke.¬†This caused him to have meltdowns because he had difficulty¬†expressing¬†himself. He also could not stay on task for longer than two minutes at a time.¬†Today, my son’s speech is in the average range, and he can often stay engaged¬†for the entirety of a school lesson. As his mother, it makes me want to cry to¬†think about how far my son has come.

Please be aware that when my son¬†enters your classroom on the first day of school, he works so hard on a daily basis to do his best.¬†Do not let it shock you if he experiences a day where he struggles with¬†transition, or if he invades one of his peer’s personal space. He will need you¬†to be his champion during these times. He will need you to tell him everything is going to be OK. He needs to be aware that you will support him¬†when he experiences a difficult moment. He does so much better when he feels¬†supported rather than feeling as if he is being ridiculed.

My son’s personal best may look¬†different than his peer’s personal best. It will be important for you to¬†realize that my son may need some additional supports to be successful, but¬†that it’s still important for him to be held to a high standard. That high¬†standard may look a bit differently than one of his counterparts. This is¬†dependent upon the type of tasks that are asked of him. If you seem him trying¬†to avoid a task, this is most likely occurring because the activity you¬†are asking him to complete is difficult. This doesn’t mean he can’t¬†complete the activity, but it may mean that he didn’t quite understand your¬†instructions, or he may need a visual, or he may just need some additional¬†waiting time so he can process the assignment.

I am completely confident that you will do everything in your power to support my son. I know how hard it is to be a teacher. You see, I am also a teacher. I know you may have limited support and resources. I know you work long days and are often uncompensated for your time. My purpose in writing this letter is really for you to have a better glimpse of who my son is. I am hoping you will be his advocate and champion during this school year. I will do everything in my power to support you. I am looking forward to building a strong partnership with you this school year.

Best Regards,
A Loving Mom