After the ceremony of my college graduation, I hugged my parents with tears streaming down my face. While hugging my dad he said, “we did it.” School was so difficult for me and I always needed so much help from my parents along the way. So when he said, “we did it”, I knew exactly what he meant and he was right, “WE did it”.
Well, Courtney, we did it. We got through your preschool experience!
It was such a growing experience for our whole family. Starting from the district being the first one to officially say Courtney had autism. I found it ironic that her last day of preschool was exactly 3 years to the date after the day we took her to the preschool to be evaluated. The process that officially changed our lives forever. Not only has Courtney grown in so many ways during her 3 years at preschool, our whole family has grown.
For me, Courtney’s preschool years taught me what it is like to be on the other side. I’ve been a teacher of children with autism for several years. Having a child with autism in preschool gave me even more compassion for the parents of my students. It gave me so much insight on what they are going through. I have grown so much as a teacher. Courtney’s preschool years taught me how to be an advocate. I didn’t realize how strong I was until she started school.
The biggest growth of course was in Courtney. Three years ago, we walked her into that school with her unable to do so much. Unable to do so much, unable to communicate, unable to understand what we wanted of her. This little ball of energy with so much stuck inside her and no way to get it out. Three years later, she is still a little ball of energy but she has found ways to show us just how smart she is. The school has helped us give her a functional way to communicate her wants and needs. They have helped teach her how to be a part of a group. She is now able to imitate her peers and even play next to them. These past 3 years have brought us tears, laughter, frustration and excitement. There have been many scratches, bites, pinches, hits and meltdowns. There have been moments where I’ve wanted to scream and moments of huge celebrations.
It takes a village to raise a child and when it comes to raising a child with special needs, that village needs to be large, it needs to be strong, it needs to be ready to put up with the good and the bad. We will forever be grateful for the village we found at Courtney’s preschool. They have been such a huge part of her growth these past three years. I wasn’t prepared for how hard this transition was going to be because my family will have to start all over with building trust with a team. But, that is exactly how I felt three years ago today and look where we are now.
To the team at Courtney’s school, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for taking such good care of our little girl and helping her grow. Courtney, I couldn’t be more proud of you. We did it!!!