Stephanie Hanrahan is a mother of two. But, as she says, she’s “not a happy person”. And why is that? Both her 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son have been diagnosed with autism, and each has 50% chances to develop a very rare heart condition inherited by their father.
This mom does anything she can to raise her children focusing on receiving and giving kindness to others instead of primarily caring about them learning their ABC’s and 123’s. And so far she seems to be doing great. According to her own narration, her older daughter has been lucky enough to have had teachers who respected her being different and embraced her particularities. Although moving from preschool to kindergarten seemed scary to her, the future teachers of her little girl reassured her that she would be fine, respected and given her time to adapt to the new environment.
And then her little one had to begin school too. Eli is also autistic and when he started school Stephanie was living the nightmare all over again, being anxious about whether he would receive all the love and understanding he needed, whether he would be left out and marginalized or included and made to feel like he belonged.
And then something wonderful happened.
At some point, her son’s teacher became friends with her on social media. Like anyone would do, Stephanie skimmed through the teacher’s profile, posts, and photos. That was when she came across a picture of her holding a chalkboard sign that read “I SAID YES”. This struck her as odd because she knew the teacher was already married. What could she be announcing to her friends online? So she read the post that went with the photo out of curiosity. And that’s when she broke down in tears. The teacher had not said yes to a marriage proposal, but to teaching an autism-specific class.
“This post, by this one particular hero, was about saying yes to becoming a teacher in an autism specific classroom. She went on to describe this job offer as her ‘dream,’ ‘an answer to prayer.’ I couldn’t stop crying, then and now, because it was in that moment, I realized how lucky we are to have found the right place and people for my son.”
In her narration, Stephanie goes on explaining how grateful she is to her children’s teachers who, unlike her and other special needs kids’ moms, have chosen to have children with differences/difficulties in their classrooms. They have chosen to embrace, respect and include them, to support and help them evolve. She also explains how much of help these teachers are to her because, thanks to them, she can have some time a day by herself, to “breathe” and be able to recharge her batteries in order to be the best mom possible for her children.
More than anything else, this touching story is a message to everyone that children with special needs are humans who need our love and support. There are families behind them who struggle every day with the difficulties their situation causes and need to feel that someone is there for them, caring about them and supporting them. A big shoutout to teachers, the cape-less heroes who love their students as if they were their own children and do all they can to help them grow into kind-hearted, giving humans.
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