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I Am Thankful My Daughter With Autism Was Accepted by Her Classmates

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As my daughter’s first year of school comes to an end, I want to give a huge thank you to a group of people. This year was filled with anxiety, doubt and a lot of scary experiences. There were many times I cried for my daughter. I can’t even count how many sleepless nights I have had. There were many times she came home crying and anxious. For every good day she seemed to have two bad days. But there was a group of people who stood by her side through it all. That group of people was her classmates.

My daughter is only in school for 3 1/2 hours a day. A lot can happen in those hours and I thought about this many times during the school day. Being that she has been at home with me her whole life, I did not know how she would handle a group of 3 and 4-year-old kids running around.

You might think I’m being dramatic about my daughter’s first year of school — I mean, everybody does it at some point. Why should I be more anxious? Well, my daughter has nonverbal autism. Something that is still a little hard to say or write. Sending her to school caused me more panic attacks than I like to admit. With all the regular school woes, I felt I had them 10 times more. Would the kids accept her? What if someone hurts her and she can’t tell me? How will she adjust without me? Will she be able to learn new things? Will the school be calling me constantly to come pick her up early? That is just a handful of concerns I had.

Throughout this year, her classmates were consistent. I am not sure where to even start on how much I appreciate each and every one of them. They accepted her right from the start. They were her biggest cheerleaders and celebrated her every accomplishment. Somehow, they could pick up on her cues and body language faster than most adults. They knew when she was sad or needed a break. If she needed something they helped her. There was never a day when she wasn’t looked after by this fantastic group of kids.

Above everything else, they were her friends. I am sure it wasn’t easy to understand why she doesn’t talk or doesn’t always hug back. But they never stopped being kind to her. They didn’t judge, whisper or bully. I know they may think she doesn’t understand or feel the same way towards them — but I believe she does. They showed her what it is like to have friends and be included in a group. And for that I will be forever grateful for each of these children.

If every person could be like the kids in preschool this world would be a beautiful place. I am thankful they were something most adults cannot. I am thankful they were kind. Thankful they accepted her differences and treated her the same as they treated everyone else. I will never forget their kindness. I hope they never change.

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Originally published: June 13, 2017
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