All parents want the best for their children. As a parent, you want to see your child thrive in school, make friends, and enjoy their childhood while it lasts.
Parents of children with autism are no different, but they know from the start that their kid is going to hit different benchmarks, and express their learning process on their own terms.
Autism manifests differently in everyone, but is often characterized by difficulty with social interactions and overstimulation.
Needless to say, the classroom can be a particularly fraught place for kids who experience the world more intensely than their neurotypical peers.
Unfortunately, kids can be thoughtless, and children with autism might find themselves excluded or having challenges with certain assignments. This is painful for the kids and also for their parents.
That’s why it’s so powerful for any parent raising a child with autism to see what’s really going on underneath the surface.
For this one mom, seeing the way her autistic son addressed his teacher gave her a whole new appreciation for the unique struggles her eighth grader experiences.
Scroll through the gallery below to read his heartbreaking words, and also his teacher’s sweet response.
It all started when an eighth grade student named Austin received a writing prompt from his teacher.
The prompt asks a question that’s likely to have just about any middle schooler thinking long and hard:
“What are three things you wish your teacher knew about you? You can write about your accomplishments, your challenges, your family, or your dreams. What would you like for your teacher to know about you, to understand you better?”
We have no doubt that every kid in the class felt like there were certain facets of their personalities that they didn’t get to show in school.
Still, for Austin, this particular question prompted a thoughtful paragraph on the specific academic challenges of autism.
“I wish that they knew that I am autistic. I wish that my teacher knew that I need help on a lot of things like my handwriting. I wish that my teacher know that I have a depressed life sometimes. I wish my teacher knew that I am not being defiant; I overwhelmed shutting down. I wish that my teacher knew I am very good at bottling up anger and having outbursts.”
It’s a heartfelt plea from a boy who doesn’t want to end up dismissed as a troublemaker just because he experiences the world differently.
Fortunately, he seems to have a top-notch teacher who is dedicating her time and energy to seeing past the outer shell of a student that isn’t “defiant,” just overwhelmed.
Her response to the short essay? “You are doing great so far! Glad you’re in my class!”
Austin may still feel like he’s not gelling with his schoolwork, but it’s clear that he has a strong advocate in his teacher.
Mom clearly agrees. In her post for the Facebook page Love What Matters, she’s quick to praise the teacher for giving her son so much support.
More poignantly, she feels strongly about Austin writing down exactly what’s going through his head, and revealing the challenges that might sometimes be unknown to parents, teachers, and peers.
She explains that it “broke their hearts” to see it all on paper, but that “We love what his teacher wrote to him and she has been great for Austin. We hope this encourages other parents, teachers and kids to keep fighting!”
She’s not the first parent to take to social media and bring awareness to the complicated hurdles that students with autism face everyday, which their classmates may not fully appreciate.
One dad recently took to Facebook to share his sadness that his son with autism felt that “no one” was his friend.
He wrote an impassioned plea to fellow parents and kids to take the time to understand his son, and to appreciate who he really is, despite his discomfort with certain social situations.
Meanwhile, one seven-year-old girl with autism won over hearts everywhere when she wrote a strong, emphatic letter, declaring “I was born with autism but that doesn’t mean I was born bad.”
Her point speaks to something that autism advocates have been saying for years; seeing the world in a way that other people don’t always understand is not something to be ashamed of. It’s just one more piece of who that person is.
Sometimes, it can be hard to share these feelings out loud, but powerful writings help reveal what people with autism are really confronted with every day.
If you were touched by these honest explanations, please make sure to SHARE and raise awareness about what people with autism experience!