The bleachers are a sea of orange shirts. I push my one-year-old back and forth across the crowds of people as I search for your class. We search for about 10 minutes before I finally spot the sign for your school. I’ve never experienced the Special Olympics before but it is way more crowded than I expected and I am thankful that I put my squirmy toddler in a stroller, or I’m sure I’d be chasing her around the crowds.

As soon as Isaac spots me, he says, “I want bye bye.”  Of course I am not at all shocked he is not fond of the loud and busy bleachers. I also think that me showing up probably confused him. He probably really believes Mom is here, so it must be time to go.

This quickly spirals into him getting upset and trying to run off and aggressively trying to head-butt you and me. I try to sit him on my lap while also keeping my restless toddler happy in the stroller. He’s getting more and more agitated by the minute; he can’t figure out why we aren’t leaving.

During one of his attempts to run off, you manage to sit him on your lap. You start pulling “Isaac food” out of your bag like a magic hat. Isaac (of course) agrees to sit and eat because the way to his heart is definitely through his stomach. He sits happily and eats pretzels and drinks a Capri Sun. Once the food is gone he continues his original mission of breaking free so he starts begging to leave again. You start patting his stomach and chest. He calms down again and leans on your lap. He even starts asking you for tickles.

Not only were you able help get him to sit throughout the opening ceremony but you also walked around to his events and helped him complete his events for the day while I straggled behind pushing the stroller.

Teachers in Isaac’s past would get so frustrated with him and I am not sure any of them would have been so patient and caring toward my sweet boy but you were. School was not always a place that Isaac wanted to go, but you have changed that for him.

I see you going above and beyond and loving my son like he was your own.

I see you buying snacks (probably with your own money) because you know at some point he will get restless and this will help.

I see you getting to know him so well that you are prepared to meet his needs before he even knows what he needs.

I see you doing an amazing job so that my son actually wants to go to school every day.

I honestly don’t know what happens during his day because he doesn’t talk. Based on how happy he is every day and how he runs to the bus every morning, I assume good things happen at school. I can tell he is going to a place where he is loved and cared for. He wants to because of teachers like you that see past the disability and love him. Thank you for being the reason he loves school.

Thank you for loving my son and seeing through the occasional meltdown.

Thank you for being the teacher I pray for before every school year.

Thank you so much being an amazing teacher for my son.

An autism momma

Christina Herzog

I am a mom to four children and a new stay-at-home mom. Two of my children have autism and my greatest passion has been to fight for them. I feel like I have been called to educate others on what it is like to be a special needs parent.