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To the Teachers of Our Children Who Learn Differently: Here’s What’s Next

A note to teachers:

As parents, we may have spent years understanding and accepting our child’s disability. We may have searched high and low to explain this behavior or that learning struggle. Once our child received a diagnosis, a label, we had to accept it and then we may have struggled with what to do next.

“Next” typically came in the form of internet searches, speaking with “experts” and probably even coming to you for advice on how to help our child learn and how to help them be successful in your classroom.

“Next” also included hours preparing and attending Individualized Educational Program meetings, coming up with accommodations and Specially Designed Instruction for our individual child. Chances are in those meetings we cried, we rejoiced and we tried to be your partner in our child’s individualized journey.

For our children who learn differently, “next” for them might have meant spending hours crying over homework, trying to learn like the next kid and trying to fit the proverbial mold that was not ever intended for them. Our children want to have A’s and B’s, they want to feel confident and smart, they want to rejoice at all the victories, big and small, but, mostly, they want to learn and be successful. They need you to teach them.

Our children who learn differently are not trying to make your job hard or your day long; in fact, they might see in your face and hear in your words your frustration. They just want you to accept them and help them, in any way you can. They need you to help them break the mold.

They trust you, and so do we.

So, out of respect for our children who learn differently and continue to try and be successful in an educational system that is not a one-size-fits-all system, and out of respect for all we as parents have done to try and help them succeed, what I am begging you to do “next” is take the time to read the Individualized Education Program — not because helping kids learn is in your job description, but, because helping kids, all kids, succeed is in your heart.

Thank you,
A Parent

P.S. I am grateful to the many teachers who take the time to read the IEPs for each of their students, who go out of their way every day to change the mold to fit each of their students, but, we parents (and our kids) can often be fully aware there are some teachers who absolutely, without question, do not.

Follow this journey on The AWEnesty of Autism.

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