Dear Teacher

Let me start out by saying that I am in awe of teachers, of the profession, and I highly respect them.  There are a few teachers in my kids’ lives that walk on water as far as I’m concerned (Mrs. L, Mrs. C) and others that are incredibly awesome.  So this post is not to “all” teachers.  This is for the teachers, a lot of them new, a lot of them who haven’t raised kids yet and for all of them who haven’t raised trauma or special needs kids.

“Dear Teacher:

I’m a parent of a special needs kid.  The special needs my kid has are invisible.  At the beginning of every school year, I write a letter to the new teacher and let them know the things my kid does (lie about everything, steal) and nobody believes it’s my child because they act so sweet at school.  Hence the warning, so you know to check their backpack when things go missing.  I’m not out to vilify my child.  I’m not a mean parent.  But I know my child has problems, we are addressing those problems, and it’s only fair to let you in on the common behaviors of my child so you are forewarned.

My child is manipulative to the extreme.  You will be charmed into thinking this is the perfect angel child, arms wrapped around you for a hug while your wallet is being stolen behind your back.  We understand our child has that affect on people, that’s survival instinct.  We are trying to teach our child that we are there to provide for them, that we can be trusted to always feed, clothe, house them and make sure all their needs are met, but it takes a long time to teach a child to trust adults after their trust has been broken.early on.

I also try to outline what behavior modification methods work for my child. Every child is different, of course, and it took a long time for us to learn what worked best with my child.  I’m not trying to tell you how to do your job, but trying to help you do your job by short-cutting the learning process – the process of learning what works for my kid.  I know the books tells you this one thing “always” works and experience might tell you that another way works, but my child is not your typical student.  Things that work for other students backfire with my child.  We have learned a way that works, consistently, with our child.  The books cannot tell you about my child, about their past, and their trauma, or why they do the things they do.

I want this to be a partnership.  There are things about my child’s past that I do not feel should be shared – so if we make special requests, like “please don’t hug my child, even if they are constantly requesting hugs” – there is a reason, a very important reason.  You need to trust us as much as we need to trust you to to do what’s right in teaching our children.  Get to know us as parents.  Our only interest is what’s best for our child.  We have no interest in telling you how to teach or how to manage any other child in the classroom – only ours.  We are not arrogant in thinking we know everything.  But we do know our child.  We know our child’s past.  So please don’t brush off our concerns or requests.  You have the goal of getting our child through this school year successfully.  We have the goal of getting our child through life successfully.

Thank you for what you do and all that you are about to take on this school year.  I respect and admire you and your profession.

Sincerely, A parent of a child with invisible special needs”

As I think back to the teachers in my children’s lives who I think walk on water – it struck me: they also have kids with special needs.  Their kids are much older than mine, and each of them fought to get their kids the help they needed to be successful.  Even as teachers, approaching other teachers, they were still viewed as “just parents” when it came to talking about their kids and had to fight and claw for their kids.




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