Honoring Special Education Teachers

Special education teachers, paraprofessionals, school nurses, bus drivers, therapists, and all other educators who work with children with disabilities have a special calling. Not just anyone can do this job. This week, we honor their passion and their work. They are so appreciated.

disabled child particpates in lesson with special education teacherWhen my son Grayson started kindergarten way back in August of 2016 {which in some ways feels like just last week}, I knew that his elementary years were going to be full of changes as well as milestones. But I also knew our family’s experiences in the six years of elementary school were going to be much different than most nervous parents sending their firstborns off to “big school” for the first time. I knew that Grayson wasn’t going to learn to read, write, add and subtract. He was never going to play kickball with his peers at recess, or even get to sample the school cafeteria’s mystery meat.

No, Grayson still isn’t ever going to win the prize for most books read, or fastest sprint in PE. But his experiences in elementary school have had a profound impact on his life.

Due to his physical and cognitive limitations, through 4th grade, Grayson was enrolled in the Life Skills program in our school district. The children in his class had a variety of disabilities and special needs, and required much more hands-on assistance and individual instruction than typical elementary students. This year, due to his increased medical needs, he is enrolled in a classroom for the most medically fragile children in our district. He has a nurse who goes with him to school, as well as a teacher and paraprofessional who assist him with tasks throughout his school day.

Over the past six years, Grayson has expanded his circle of adults and children whom he trusts and enjoys spending time with. He has been exposed to a wide variety of books and music. He rides the school bus to and from school. His attention span has increased. And most of all, he is HAPPY and LOVES school.

child and teacher sit side by side

Every day, my son’s teacher works diligently to help Grayson accomplish the educational goals set out in his IEP. She reads to him, encourages him, and gives him breaks when he needs them. The amazing paraprofessionals in his classroom assist with all these tasks as well. They are so appreciated.

Grayson’s bus drivers pick him up each morning, secure his wheelchair in the bus, and assure that he is safe and comfortable as he is transported to school. They genuinely love my boy, and he is secure with them each time he is lifted into that big yellow bus. They are so appreciated.

child in wheelchair gets lifted onto school bus

The therapists who work with Grayson spend hours each month making him physically stronger and working on positions for him that will maximize his ability to learn. They use music to stimulate his brain. They create engaging sensory materials for him to use at home. They are so appreciated.

child in wheelchair works with music therapistGrayson keeps his school nurse busy with the multiple medications he takes during the school day as well as his ongoing medical needs. She changes his diaper, makes sure his feeding pump is working properly, comforts him when he’s in pain, and transfers him in and out of his wheelchair.  The nurse cares for him so well and keeps me informed of any changes or concerns she notices. She is so appreciated.

child in wheelchair sits beside a school nurseAs the end of elementary school approaches, my heart is filled with gratitude for the educators who made these years so positive for my little boy. My hope is that all special education teachers and educators feel noticed for the hard work they put in so their students will succeed. They are most definitely so appreciated.


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Elizabeth Baker
Elizabeth was raised in Houston and met her husband Ryan shortly after graduating from Texas A&M with a journalism degree. A few years later, Grayson {Sept 2010}, turned Elizabeth’s world upside down, not only with his sparkling blue eyes and killer smile, but with his profound disabilities and diagnosis of Mitochondrial Disease. After two years of navigating the world of special needs parenting, Elizabeth and Ryan were blessed with Charlotte {Jan 2013} and Nolan {Sept 2015}, perfectly completing their party of five. Elizabeth and her crew live in Katy, and when she can steal a few moments for herself, she can be found out for Mexican food and margaritas with girlfriends, binge-listening to podcasts and audiobooks, or trying once again {unsuccessfully} to organize her closet. In addition to her role as Managing Editor of HMB, Elizabeth writes about faith, politics and special needs parenting for publications like Scary Mommy and HuffPost.You can connect with Elizabeth on Facebook,Twitter, Instagram, or ElizabethKBaker.com


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