A Letter to the Parents of My Students With Disabilities


From the teacher who would move heaven and earth to see a big, beautiful smile.

I want to start by saying thank you. Thank you for loving and nurturing and giving your heart and soul and life towards making your child’s life the best it can be. Thank you for fighting for appropriate services for your child and getting placement at our school. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to become a chapter in your son’s life. Thank you for allowing your daughter to become a chapter in mine.

You’ve heard from me pretty regularly now for almost a year; some of you more regularly than others. I’m sorry that so often our communication originates from the challenging day your son or daughter may have had; I’m sorry the day was challenging for him or her, and I’m sorry it sometimes means the challenges may persist until the next morning.

I want you to know every day I find something I want to contact you about, beyond the behavior and the curriculum, beyond the goals and objectives, the behavior intervention plans, the crisis management implementation, beyond the day-to-day schedule adjustments and updates.

Every day I find something I want to share with you to remind you that your child is a bright spot in my day. I want to share how your son impressed me with his dance moves, or how your daughter impressed me with her memory of a conversation we had the day before. I want you to know your son grabbed my hand to stop me, he shot me a dazzling smile right as I pulled out a timer because he’s so stinkin’ smart and knew I was about to tell him he had two minutes left playing with the iPad and he didn’t want to be done yet. You should know your son and I spent 10 minutes today just jumping around the room, because his smile got so big and I didn’t have the heart to make him follow his visual schedule just yet; academics will wait, but with tough days coming more often than not, that genuine joy may not. I want to tell you about the way your daughter cheers for every single person getting in and out of the school van, so much so that she forgets to get out of the van herself.

I want you to know I sometimes just stand outside the classroom door while the therapists are doing their jobs, while timers are going off and sight words are being read and test tubes are being sorted — and I just watch everyone. I’m not looking for a perfectly implemented behavior plan or an exceptionally run dyad, although I can assure you that is being done. But I’m looking for signs that we’re making a connection, that we’re bringing more than just routine and improved behavior for your kiddo.

I’m looking for a smile — big or little, it doesn’t matter. I would move heaven and earth to see those smiles every day, and I just wanted you to know.

With all the love in the world,
Miss Katlyn, Coordinating Teacher and Big-Time Sucker for a Great Smile

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Getty image by monkeybusinessimages

JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Autism Spectrum Disorder

Why We Took A Break From Therapy

It’s been an interesting journey parenting four daughters, three of whom are on the spectrum. We have definitely approached therapy differently for each daughter — starting with the major onset delay in accessing support for Sno due to her later diagnosis, then positive regular OT sessions for Wilding in our home environment and now therapy [...]
Couple dating having dinner in restaurant.

Why I Want To Help People With Autism Find Love and Relationships

Not very long ago I wrote a book about autism and falling in love. I wrote the book about my previous experiences growing up with autism and trying to get into relationships, in the hopes of educating others. Over a decade since my first relationship, I can now say I’ve had success (and some challenges) [...]

Why I Told My Autistic Daughter There Is No Santa

I love the magic of Christmas. I love the way it changes people and they think about others much more. Charities often make more money in December than the rest of the year, and children sing carols and cheerful songs at school. Although it is very commercial, it can be a real time for families [...]
Don Burke

Don Burke Denies Sexual Assault Allegations, Says He Has Asperger's

People in the autism community are voicing their concern after Australian TV producer and presenter Don Burke told “A Current Affair” on Monday, that he’s diagnosed himself with Asperger’s syndrome. Burke then used his self-diagnosis to explain inappropriate behavior after multiple women accused him of sexual assault and harassment. Although Burke denies the allegations against him, people in the autism [...]