My Son is Going to Kindergarten! A Letter of Gratitude

To My Son’s Support System,

Last week I had my son’s IEP meeting with the team from his preschool. I was fully expecting us to discuss him continuing another year in ESE PreK. Being that he has ADHD and Autism, this kind of news is something I’ve learned to expect, him lagging behind his same-age peers.

However, to my surprise, that is not what I was told! One by one, the members of the IEP team, which included people such as his teacher, the guidance counselor, the speech therapist, and school psychologist, told me he absolutely should continue to Kindergarten and that his academic skills are on target for a child his chronological age.

Up until that point, I had no idea how his education would look. I was uncertain if he’d be able to function in a general education setting.  But because of the wonderful people who have put so much effort into his success over the past couple of years, I now truly believe anything is possible for him.

It has been the dedication and hard work of a team of experts that got him to this point. And although ADHD and Autism will always be a part of who he is, I now also believe those diagnoses are what make him such a unique and smart little guy.  So I want to pause during this busy holiday season, and personally thank each person who has contributed to his success thus far.

The first person I want to thank is his pediatrician. When he was 18 months old, and I was concerned about his speech regression, she not only listened, she acted. She immediately sent him for a speech evaluation, so therapy could begin as soon as possible. Thank you!

To his speech therapist, you not only helped my son learn to speak, but you also gave us hope that he would continue to improve, and he did, and you taught me how to help him. Thank you!

To his occupational therapist, you are the reason my son can now tolerate swinging on a swing! It is one of his favorite things to do! You also helped him begin to learn to feed himself, and those types of independent skills are life-changing. Thank you!

To my son’s Early Intervention behavior therapist, you helped give our family the tools we needed to be able to go out into our community again and not only keep my son safe but to help us be able to enjoy doing fun things together again as a family. Thank you!

To my son’s developmental pediatrician and her nurse practitioners, not only did you help my son get a proper diagnosis, you’ve have been there every step of the way to make sure he was on the best medications and supplements to help manage many of his symptoms so he could learn! Thank you!

To my son’s pharmacist, I know I must annoy you sometimes! But you always help me by being the middle man between our insurance company and the doctors trying to keep his costly medications covered. Thank you!

To my son’s current behavior therapists, I don’t even know where to begin. The amount of gratitude and respect I have for each of you is infinite. I am in awe of the wisdom, patience, and perseverance you possess. When my son is successful, you feel the same joy I do, and when he has challenges, you stop at nothing to help him overcome them. Thank you!

To all the people behind the scenes at his ABA center, you are the reason the behavior therapists can do their job so well. You are also the reason my son can attend. You put in all the hard work negotiating with our insurance company for the hours my son needs. Thank you!

To my son’s current ESE PreK teacher, what a blessing you have been! My son loves attending your class, and his academics have thrived! That is what sets his little soul on fire! He loves learning, and your patience with him is helping him build those skills, and I see with teachers like you, there is no stopping him! Thank you!

To each person on my son’s IEP team, thank you for believing in my little guy! Thank you for encouraging me that he will excel in Kindergarten and telling me that he will receive any extra supports he needs to be successful in that setting. You really set my mind at ease. Thank you!

My son is not finished growing and learning. And there will be many other people along his journey that will be added to this list. But for now, I just can’t imagine where he would be without all of you. He has overcome so many obstacles in his short little life all because of you! And I know as new challenges emerge, you will be right there with me to help him overcome those.

It is with a joyful heart and tremendous gratitude that I sincerely thank each and every one of you.

We must find the time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives. – John F. Kennedy

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Amy Nielsen lives in Orlando, Florida. She is the proud mother of four children ranging in age from 5-33! She and her husband, Brent enjoy sports and traveling. Amy is a former teacher with nearly 20 years of experience, a freelance writer, and a special needs advocate. Her mission is to help educate and empower families of children with disabilities to focus on their child's interests and strengths.