The kids had their holiday concerts at school on Tuesday. The teachers did such a great job coordinating everything and the kids were all so cute as they performed their songs – with props (I think I saw a few budding stars up there as well!) As I watched the different grades transition on and off the stage there was one thing that I kept noticing – the sheer amount of love and dedication that each of the paras in the room were showing to their student. Now it’s not that I find that odd or unusual because I don’t – I guess I’ve never given it much thought since I typically don’t see the other paras when I’m rushing in/out of school.
Having a special needs child changes a parent’s perspective on a lot of things. Things that might have been taken for granted before now become a huge area of worry. For example, my able bodied children will constantly tell us when something is amiss – either at school with a teacher (and a perceived wrong the teacher did) or with another student. But with Gavin, being non-verbal, there is always a huge concern for his safety and well being when we aren’t around. Special needs children are more likely than able bodied children to be abused, and sadly that number is on the rise. So hearing those stories – either from parents we know or on the news – tends to up the “old anxiety” just a bit.
But seeing all of these men and women with their students, they truly are the unsung heroes that are such a huge part of the kids’ lives. Now I’m not saying we won the “para lottery” or anything like that (ok I lie, I am totally saying that) but we were extremely lucky that Gavin’s first para was so amazing. She has really helped him to shine and get comfortable in the numerous settings/situations around school. Thankfully she continues to be on his team of paras (I think that’s more so that she can rat him out to new paras/teachers/staff when he tries to play people though!) It’s very clear to see the tight bond that has formed between the two of them over the last two years. Watching the two of them on Tuesday as she prepped him to go on stage to participate with his class, it’s very clear how much he loves and trusts her, for which I am eternally grateful.
So to all the amazing paras out there, thank you. For the dedication, love, respect, patience and kindness you show to the students you are charged with caring for during the school day. You truly help to alleviate a significant amount of concern and stress that parents carry each time their child is away from them. To our own Mrs. B – words will never convey all that we feel and I hope you know just how very much you mean to Gavin (and to us) and the peace you bring knowing you are with him.