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What My Son on the Autism Spectrum Needs Most From School Is a Good Teacher

My son was diagnosed with autism at 3 years old. He had delays in social communication, speech, a math learning disability, and he also had a delay in the areas of fine and gross motor. With all of this being said, my child may have had delays, but he was also gifted in many other areas. Unfortunately, due to his diagnosis, it felt like I needed to fight for my child at every turn to give him access to the services he required.

I can’t tell you how many tears I have cried over my son. I shed tears before IEP meetings and I cried when he would come home with low marks on his report cards in areas such as physical education. I know he tried his hardest, but at times, it felt like for others it just wasn’t good enough. With how autism presents in my son, children like him can often get labeled in school as just not trying hard enough or lazy. I can’t tell you what this did to my son’s self esteem. He would come  home and  say things like, “I’m stupid and I wish that things were easier and that I was just like all of the other kids.” I can’t even explain what this does to a mother’s heart. At the end of last school year, I ultimately made the decision to try and find a school that would see him for a child beyond his autism.

My son has an amazing heart and he loves with all that he has in him. He would give his last dollar to someone on the street and he prays for homeless animals. This child is so much more than a diagnosis. One teacher or one administrator can impact a child in more ways than they will ever know. Thankfully for my son, this story has a happy ending.

I met with the principal of a local private school this summer. He is a school psychologist by trade, so he has had some experience with those diagnosed with autism. I can’t even explain in words how I just knew that I had found the right school when I met with this principal. He was filled with grace and compassion and I believed him to be an amazing human being.

My son was ultimately placed in a second grade class with one of the most amazing second grade teachers I have ever had the pleasure of working with. This is saying quite a lot, because I’m a special education teacher by trade. This teacher blessed my son in ways that I will never be able to repay her. My son hated school up until this year and now he’s finishing second grade with an absolute love for learning. He’s no longer calling himself the “stupid” kid. A teacher did this for my son. She gave him his self-confidence back and made him feel loved and valued. She was with me at every turn and if she ever had an issue arise, we’d collaborate together and work together as a cohesive team. This is what education is supposed to be about. Working together for the good of the child! It makes me cry happy tears when I think of just how far my son has come and he’s come this far in large part because of his amazing teacher. She has blessed my son in so many ways and I am just so thankful for her.

If your child has ever been blessed with an amazing teacher, please take the time to thank them. As the school year is concluding, many teachers don’t hear often enough just how much they have made an impact.

Image Credits: Courtnie Rederick