How do you say thank you to someone who has given you your child back? Someone who has taken a nonverbal child and helped them find their voice. There aren’t words for that.
My middle son was born six weeks early. And when he was two he was not speaking very much at all. Understandably, he was frustrated by it and had horrible tantrums. Thankfully we got into Early Steps. Early Steps is an early intervention program designed to help children from infant to 36 months that have significant delays that are likely to result in a developmental delay. Middle was able to get weekly speech services at home through them. It helped some. As a result, he went from maybe twenty words to fifty words. But, he was still behind in speech as well as motor skills. He was placed in an Ipeeps class (special needs preschool class for 3 and 4 year-olds). After that, our world changed.
I met these wonderful special ed teachers, Kara Creighton and Beth Provost the week after school started after we got Middle’s IEP issues situated. I walked in with tears threatening to come out at any time. How do you leave your baby, who can’t communicate, with strangers? Ms. C looked at me and said, “don’t worry mama, we got him.” It was like she knew how nervous I was and those words were such a reassurance to me. I knew he would be fine.
These two women are my lifeline. They taught Middle so well in fact that now he is a chatterbox. He did one year with them and is now in VPK and reading.
So, this year, my Tiny Tot is in their class. He loves Mrs. P.; she is his buddy. He started in August and within six weeks he was saying words! Finally, my nonverbal baby was talking! He was counting and saying letters. His speech now comes and goes but it’s there!
How to show appreciation for the class
Last year, with Middle’s class, I started doing a project with the class. I took a photo of the kids with what they love about each teacher. Not all the kids were verbal but they held a sign and I put the photos in a collage for the teachers. The ESE department in general at most schools is massively underfunded so you could always make a donation to that fund. Or buy a gift card to a place you know your teacher shops from and give it to your teacher. That way the money you donate stays in your class with your child versus the whole department. I’m sure you have some unused toys lying around at home? Stuffed animals? Donate them to a special needs class.
Extra clothes that aren’t in shape to sell? Buy books for the class at the book fair. Buy them copy paper. I have been known to pester my teachers for things they need or want. We have a much larger class this year and I do not want them spending their own money time and time again for supplies.
How to show appreciation to the person
These special ed teachers are people and some have families of their own. We all know teachers aren’t paid enough by far. Find out their favorite restaurant and get a few gift cards. Most teachers have a ton of personalized cups, signs, and bags. So, if you want to do something along those lines, maybe a t-shirt or a key-chain. Pedicures and manicures or a massage would be such a treat for these superheroes. You can never go wrong with a heartfelt letter and flowers.
To all the special needs teachers out there, thank you doesn’t seem to be enough. You deserve so much praise. So, thank you for giving us our babies back; for your hard work and endless love. Thank you for celebrating our milestones with us and crying tears of frustration at setbacks and delays in paperwork. Without you, we wouldn’t be the parents we are.