Dear: (insert your name here)…
(Preschool Teacher, Swimming Instructor, Sunday School Teacher, Classroom Aide, Gymnastics Coach, Medical Professional, Therapist of any sort, Friends, Family, Acquaintances, and anyone else I may possibly have missed)
I. Appreciate. You.
I believe I regularly forget to tell you that.
Whether I am breathlessly rushing in or out the door to drop off or pick up Jake from something, whether I am busy wrangling my other kids while trying to make sure not to lose Jake in the process, or whether I am just totally distracted, lost in a moment of thought, I often forget to express my appreciation to you, the village who is helping me raise Jake. This is me, thanking you.
I appreciate how much you care, really care, about my son. I know this because I see the way you look at him, the way you speak about him, the interactions that you have with him. I know this because in my conversations with you it is glaringly obvious. I know this because of your willingness to openly dialogue with me about how Jake is doing, and what we can be doing to help him reach his potential in whatever sphere of influence you have in his life. This is me, thanking you.
You often ask me, whether directly or indirectly, what you need to know about Jake. I could go on for hours about how he has an amazing little personality, about how he draws people to himself, about his wicked sense of humor, about his desperate desire for communication, or about his ability to enjoy life. The biggest piece of advice I have for you about my son, however, is this:
So often visible disabilities develop a bad reputation. I am well aware of this. I most likely perpetuated it before I knew better. But I want to let you in on a little secret regarding Jake: he is very competent. He knows how to work you! He understands amazingly more than he can respond to. He is constantly taking in and evaluating the world around him. He is a quick learner when motivated. And although he may be moving at a slower rate than his typically-developing peers, he is constantly reaching milestones, pushing forward, and adding to his understanding.
Hold him to a high standard.
Set the bar high, and then help him reach for it.
This is me, thanking you in advance.
I promise you will be amazed.
This thankful momma.