June 26, 2015

This Teacher Has Changed Our Lives

Brandon has autism.  When I first brought him to his new preschool class when he turned three, it was quite a transition.   He had no words, and his receptive language was incredibly low.  At that time he really only knew what the word “no” meant.  I knew he wouldn’t even sit down for circle time, let alone follow simple instructions.  It was going to be so hard for him.

I was so worried about Brandon starting his special needs preschool.  What if the teacher just lets him do whatever he wants?  What if he’s too much trouble and his teacher just can’t take it anymore?  What if the teacher is mean to him and he is miserable at school all day?  He is nonverbal and can’t tell me if something isn’t right.  There were so many “what ifs” going through my head.

“Go,” Ms. Tameka said on his first day.  “He will be just fine.”

Fast-forward just six months later, Brandon not only sits for circle time, but laughs and participates in and enjoys the activities.  He washes his hands independently, and he has at least 20 words that he will say when prompted.  I can give him simple commands like, “Throw that away” or “Brush your teeth.”  It is life changing.

We had about a month of pretty rough behavior issues at school.  It was after he had been there for about three months, so it was confusing as to why it was happing all of a sudden. 

I never…never got the feeling that Ms. Tameka loved Brandon any less.  If anything, it was evident how badly she wanted to see him succeed.  One day I broke down and cried right in front of her.  I felt so helpless.  What could I do to end this behavior?  It wasn’t happening at home.  I know that is such a cliché thing for a parent to say, but it was true.  Sobbing, I said, “I feel so helpless.  I don’t know what to do at home to help this situation.   I hope you believe me that I’m not reinforcing this behavior at home just because it’s too hard to deal with.”

Tameka emailed me later that evening, reiterating that everything was going to be okay.  “We are in this together,” she told me.

She would do anything for Brandon.  She is a true partner in this journey.  I find myself sending her pictures and videos of Brandon after school hours or on the weekends when he does something great.  I just can’t wait until the next day to share it with her.

As a mom, I get the feeling that my son is the teacher’s pet – that he’s the favorite.  The beauty of this is that I am sure that his teachers make all the parents feel this about their own children.  Tameka cares about every child in her class, and pushes them to succeed.  She is the perfect balance between firmness and kindness.

There is nothing I could say or do to fully express my appreciation for her.


This post was submitted for teacher appreciation contest at The Mighty...and Tameka won!  She is a Mighty Special Needs Teacher of the Year! Please click here to read more about her on The Mighty!

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