Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The "special" teacher

Gracie graduated from Pre- K today. Wow, what an amazing accomplishment from the little girl who wasn't supposed to even leave the hospital in 2009. I was sitting here tonight, thinking of all that she has done and learned this year, and it brought tears to my eyes.

A year ago, Grace had her final PT/OT session with the girl who came to our house. Gracie absolutely loved her. She loved their play time. I remember one day they were trying to learn to use scissors, and Grace scared the living daylights out of everyone. Yesterday, her occupational therapist told me that scissors were pretty much "mastered." Mastery of a skill....alot of parents probably don't even notice things like using scissors. To us, it's huge. So, to all of the occupational therapists out there...thank you.

Last September, we went to parent teacher night at her school. Part of that included "open gym"- which meant that the physical therapy rooms were open. Grace fell about 500 times that night, and could not even keep herself upright on the therapy ball. Today, she bounces across the room on it like Tigger. So, to all of the physical therapists out there...thank you.

At the beginning of the school year, Grace still aspirated pretty regularly. She asked everyone, "What's your name?" Her h's were p's. Her name was Dace. Today, she very rarely ever chokes, much less aspirates. Our cat now hisses at her...and that sure does sound better than what she used to say. Her name is not only Grace, but it's G-R-A-C-E. Spelled out. So, to all of the speech therapists out there...thank you.

A year ago, Grace could not sit still for a minute. She couldn't remember anything past Twinkle, twinkle little star. She had a hard time fitting in with other kids, because she didn't understand like they did. She wouldn't sit still even for half of a story. She didn't know her ABC's, colors, numbers, animals, etc. Today, she knows and does all of these things.

A special education teacher is a very SPECIAL teacher indeed. Every day, that person CHOOSES to go to a classroom with kids that are "different". Some of them hit. Bite. Some are non verbal and that teacher can never be quite sure what they are getting...or not getting. Almost all of them have the energy of 24 "normal" kids. That teacher loves those kids though, loves that job, that CALLING- and does it day in and day out. And the kids learn. They are like sponges, and before long, parents like us are amazed at the things their children know. AND so, to all of the special education teachers out there...thank you. What you do is important. What you do matters, forever. What you do changes lives.

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Happy pre-K graduation, girly-bug. We are so very proud of you!!

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