Dear Parent of a child with special needs:
Hi, it’s me, your child’s speech therapist. I’ve seen a lot of moving posts floating around the Internet from parents to teachers/therapists, so I thought it was time I write one to you.
I know you’re busy, but just let me say…
…I see you.
Maybe you sit across the table from me at a case conference. Maybe you wait patiently in the waiting room every week. Maybe yet you open your home to me or meet me at the library for early intervention. Sometimes your hair is in place and your child comes to me clean and freshly pressed, and other times your make-up is a day old and your sweetie hasn’t made it out of his pajamas before lunch. You cringe when I ask to use your bathroom because you’re not sure the last time you scooped laundry up off the floor. Whatever the case, I notice you. I spend a few hours a week with your child, but they are yours for the rest of the time. You run from therapy to the grocery to soccer practice in between practicing speech sounds in the car, feeding tube schedules or naming objects as you dash through the grocery store to help grow your tot’s vocabulary. You juggle finicky diets, weighted vests and favorite toys with ease. How I wish I could be like you! Sometimes you have it all together and sometimes you’re not sure where “it all” is. You fall into bed exhausted and wake up early to start it all over again with better endurance than an Olympic athlete. You warrior through each long day and longer night and sometimes feel unnoticed. Let me be the first to say you inspire me.
…I need you.
Oh, how I need you! I can write goals, take data, and gather materials until I’m blue in the face but without you, it’s pointless. You are the expert on your child. You know your non-verbal child’s angry cry versus their tired cry, and you know well before we’ve hit the overstimulated mark. Even if I’ve been with your child for some time now, no one knows your sweetheart like you do…even when you think you don’t. You are the one who knows how to best motivate your child to be their best,and you are the link to what I do during therapy and the way it makes a difference at home and in the classroom. You and I make a really great team, and to be honest, there’s no way I can make the difference I want to make without you. You’re so valuable to what I do.
…I am on your side.
This is far from just a job. This is my passion. Those goals, data, and materials I mentioned? I went to school for a (really) long time to get where I am today. I spend so much time that you don’t see reading, talking with other speech therapists, learning, asking bigger questions, and cutting out “those” picture cards all for your child. I don’t tell you that to impress you or make you feel bad, but so you know I’m committed to what I do. I love what I do and, even on meltdown days, I love your child. Knowing that I get to do what I do every day is what gets me out of bed. I’m in this for the long-haul, and I promise to keep reading, planning, and researching for your child. And, of course, for you.