Fathers For Autism

I am a road-worn father of an amazing autistic daughter and NT son. I started this blog to provide information, a sounding board and a voice for fathers of autistic children.

More to see on my Facebook page.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Christmas Gift...

Like many autistic children, my daughter is a wanderer.  She also doesn't have very good danger sense.  A flower, a balloon, an interesting tree might take her across a busy highway or down a ditch.  We are always on constant alert to keep her safe.

As such, she requires a 1-on-1 Para-Professional working with her when she's in school.  

Her current Para is truly remarkable.  She believes in my daughter and has that solid, yet kind, energy that my little girl really responds to.  In fact, over the past year that they have been together, my daughter has grown more confident, more secure and is definitely happier in school.  

Although I attribute much of my daughter's newly-found confidence to her indominable spirit, I also feel that the staff at the school, specifically her Para and SE Director, have contributed so much and with little fan-fare.  

I decided I would give her Para a gift.

Of course, we gave her a gift card, Barnes and Noble, but I wanted to do more.  Para-Professionals are the unsung heroes of our world and often go unnoticed and unappreciated.  Specifically by the other kids in the school who don't totally understand why she's in the classroom, other than that she's there for my daughter.

So, I wrote a story.

I wrote about a magical creature, in the Suessical style, who smells like cookies and cares for the lost.  Who wanders the land looking for those in need and finds ways to help.  The creature's name was the last name of my daughter's Para-Professional...

I read the story in my daughter's class yesterday morning.  Her Para didn't know I would be there or how famous she would soon become to the kids.  

I prefaced the story with the following:

"This story is a gift.  Not one that I would give, but one that was given to me and my family.  And we are so thankful that she is in our lives..."

The Redhead chimed in "It's a tribute to you!!!" and she pointed at her Para.  So much for the surprise...hehe.

As the words spilled out and the class leaned in, I glanced over to her to see if she approved.  I saw smiles and tears.  Happy tears.   Whew...

I read, and stood, and gestured, and whispered.  The kids all listened, occasionally glancing across the room at my teary inspiration, and never once interrupted.  They loved it.  I breathed another sigh of relief...could have gone completely wrong if they hated it or, worse, were bored.  They even applauded at the end, but they were looking at the Para and not me.  I applauded her, too.

She walked over and gave me a hug.

"Thank you" she said.

"No, thank you." I replied.  "Thank you so very much".

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