Open Letter to The Treatment and Learning Center for Autism, Tyler, Texas

Do you have any idea what it’s like to feel as though there’s absolutely no place in the world for your child? No place safe enough. No one who desires to take enough time to truly get to know your child and understand him. No one that truly believes in his potential. No place that would assign value to him. 

A few years ago, that is the exact place we found ourselves in. We felt hopeless and helpless. During one of our darkest seasons, God allowed our paths to cross with The Treatment and Learning Center for Autism.

Over the course of the last several years, the staff at TLC have breathed new life into our family. It is all because they chose to believe in my child when no one else would.They challenged him academically because they could see his potential. They challenged him behaviorally because they believed he was capable of overcoming. They didn’t allow him to settle, even though it was the harder road to take. They pushed him to reach his full potential. Things that many others said he would never be able to do, he has surpassed. Our son has overcome so much in the last several years and we believe this is greatly due to the fact that the staff at TLC have given their all on behalf of our child.

They have built relationships with our son. They have gotten to know him: His likes, dislikes, personality, and character. Once they got to know our son, they fell in love with him and in turn, he fell in love with them. Once you capture the heart of a child, you can then capture their mind. That is exactly what the staff at TLC has done. 

The TLC staff have gone above and beyond the call of duty. The extra time they have put in to offer support, help us to implement strategies within our own home, to assist during melt-downs, to help our child integrate into social settings, and to encourage us to press on could only have been done out of the overflow of their hearts. We will never forget and will always be grateful for their selflessness and willingness to be a support to our family. 

For the very first time in the life of my child, have I been able to drop my son off at school and leave without a pit in the bottom of my stomach. I haven’t had to wonder or worry if he would be safe and handled with care. I haven’t had to wonder if he was truly learning or being challenged to reach his full potential. For the first time in his entire life, we have been able to breathe deep and rest assured that he has received the upmost treatment and care. For the first time, our son has known what it is like to have true relationships with people outside of family. He has had a community built around him to love him, challenge him, and guide him. 

These are the things that are priceless. These are the things that every Special Needs Parent longs for in the life of their child. These are the things that, sadly, are not offered to families like ours in most places. 

The Lord is leading our family to a new city and a new season of life. We are leaving the comfort and safety that TLC has offered. And while we are super nervous and extremely sad to leave behind our TLC family, we know that we could never have made this move if it had not been for their constant help and support over these last few years. Our son would not be in the place where he is today. I believe he would’ve never developed the skills that he has now without the help of the TLC staff. 

I know it must be a great undertaking to keep programs like The Treatment and Learning Center going. If you have ever wondered if it’s truly worth it, our family is living proof that TLC is in the business of changing lives. It’s not just a behavioral therapy center. TLC is impacting the lives of those who are often times cast aside or never given a chance anywhere else. For our child, TLC has been a symbol of hope and promise of a future filled with bright possibilities. 

We will forever consider The Treatment and Learning Center home. We will always be grateful for the impact they have had on our family. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for the difference you have made in the life of our child. It is our prayer that God would continue to pour out His blessings on TLC and its staff as they continue to change the world, one child at a time. 

Blessings,

Jake and Nichole Huggins

 

So many special friends throughout the years…wish we had pictures of them all. TLC staff, you know who you are! THANK YOU!!!

How You Have Blessed Our Special Needs Family

Do you know what a blessing you are? There you have been, standing in the gap, spurring our special needs family on. When it feels as though there is no place in the world for our children, you have been that glimmer of hope saying it might still be possible. It is because of people like you and the blessing you have been that we press on. 

To the friend who is always there for us, you are a blessing. You have blessed us by recognizing that you won’t always understand. You trust us as the parents of our special needs child and are never quick to pass judgement. Because you aren’t personally walking this special-needs journey, you are not quick to offer up advice, but rather you are a willing sounding board and prayer partner. Instead of reminding me to “take care of yourself,” you put words into action and lighten my load by picking up groceries for me or bringing our family a meal. You have blessed us with a friendship that is not dependent upon flashy vacations or the newest restaurant (because these are not our family’s reality), but rather a friendship that is deepened by prayers, tears, truth, and heart talks. You have blessed us. 

To the family member who wants to connect with our child, you are a blessing. You have blessed us by your willingness to listen instead of taking it personally when we try to explain the way our child “works.” You have included and not excluded. You understand that no two kids are alike (especially when it comes to special needs), and therefore you ask questions about our child. You have gotten on his level to play with him and made an effort to enter his world. You have been patient, and you have cheered him on as he grows and changes. Your thoughtfulness, consideration, love, and desire to connect with our son feeds our souls and fills our hearts. You have blessed us. 

To the church leader who welcomes my special needs child, you are a blessing. You have helped create a community of faith for my child who is often excluded by others. You have assigned him value, and by your example you show others what a blessing it can be to include those who are “different.” You believe the gospel is for everyone and walk this out in how you teach our child. Our son’s noises, singing, and loud laughter do not give you pause. You welcome imperfection because you know that God does his most beautiful work in the midst of the imperfect. Your heart for sharing Jesus with ALL children and your efforts to include our child allow us to come and worship. You have blessed us. 

To the teacher who believes in my special needs child, you are a blessing. There is a difference in being a teacher and teaching with belief. You believe. You look past our child’s weaknesses and capitalize on his strengths. Even on the weary days, you push him and never give up. You are in the fight with us: the fight for knowledge, the fight for inclusion, the fight for a better tomorrow. You have taken the time to see the heart of our child. And once you saw his heart, you refused to give up. We have watched the beauty of your love pour over our child as we have cried and planned and worked together to help him achieve his personal best. You have blessed us. 

Being a special needs parent can be lonely. Each of you have been there at just the right time, when God knew we needed you most. There are days in the life of a special needs parent that seem too hard and too big for us to handle in our own strength. Your presence has helped us through those days. My plea to you is this: keep doing you. The world needs your example of unconditional and selfless love.

First published by my partners at Joni and Friends and Irresistible Church  http://irresistiblechurch.org/blessed-special-needs-family/

Thank you to those of you who truly believe. You have made all the difference in our life and in the life of our child!

Thank you to those of you who truly believe. You have made all the difference in our life and in the life of our child!

The Smile in My Pocket: Special Needs Siblings

“Nichole, do you need the smile in my pocket?” As a little girl, my momma would offer me her “extra” smile when I was feeling sad. I had forgotten she used to say this until just the other day, as we all eventually turn into a version of our parents, I looked at my own daughter’s downcast face and offered, “Grace, do you need the smile in my pocket?” It was without thought that these words tumbled out of my mouth, and I couldn’t help but smile at the realization of what I had just said. But my little girl was not smiling. Not even close. 

It was not a look of discontentment or boredom that covered her face. There was no trace of selfishness. Instead, it was a look of deep sorrow—an emotion that flooded her heart and reflected in her eyes. I knew this look. I had seen it before. 

My sweet girl buried her face in her hands and wept. She wept for her baby brother. She was burdened for him as the new school year approached. She prayed that he would make new friends and that his teachers would love him; because it’s hard watching her baby brother try to find acceptance in a world where autism is still very misunderstood. 

This was the cry of a special needs sibling. 

We know that parents of special needs children sometimes need extra support and encouragement, but we often forget that special needs siblings also daily give of themselves, their time, attention, and love. They need support and encouragement too. 

Here are just a few things we have learned from our precious daughter. 

Special Needs Siblings Feel Deeply

Special needs siblings are exposed at a very early age to the lack of understanding our society has for people with disabilities; many times, they feel responsible to make a way for their sibling. Special needs siblings want so much to have a connection with their brother or sister; toys, movie preference, and activities take a backseat to the possible opportunity of simply winning a glance, a smile, or even a touch from them. Just as my husband and I sit and pour out our hearts to one another about the future and well-being of our special needs son, our daughter also loves her baby brother and is concerned for him, praying desperately for him to succeed. We should always keep in mind the deep heart aches of a special needs sibling. 

Special Needs Siblings Sacrifice Greatly

Therapy sessions, doctor appointments, procedures, and tests ... this is the life of a special needs family. We try to remind our daughter that she doesn’t have to be the doctor, the therapist, or the teacher. “Just be his big sister” we say as she prompts her baby brother with verbal cues before she will allow him to have another pretzel bite. Disability becomes a family affair. Our homes are not like everyone else’s. Our lives have a unique ebb and flow. In the midst of all this, we desperately try to make special time for our daughter. Time that is only for her. Because many special needs siblings, by nature, give of themselves relentlessly. 

Special Needs Siblings Need Encouragement

If you know a child who is a special needs sibling, please encourage them. They carry burdens heavier than many their age. They have also acquired beautiful gifts that take many of us a lifetime to learn. They recognize that love requires no words. They know the significance of being a friend to all people regardless of ability. They have learned to find the beauty in life amidst the struggle. They have learned to choose relationship over possessions. It’s true that special needs siblings carry a perspective of life that is weighty at times and yet equally as beautiful. The weight of these gifts should be matched by as much encouragement as we can give. 

Special needs siblings feel deeply, sacrifice greatly, and need our encouragement. Maybe you could offer them the smile in your pocket?

First Published at Irresistible Church

 http://irresistiblechurch.org/smile-pocket-special-needs-siblings/

 

First Day of School

First Day of School

To My Son's Special Education Teacher: We Need to Talk

Dear Special Education Teacher,

It’s time. I’ve been holding this back for far too long. We need to talk.

You see, I’ve been waiting. I’ve been waiting to see if you would do what many other teachers have done before. I was waiting to see if you would grow weary, lose hope, or just plain give up. As the parent of a special needs child, we are far too familiar with the disappointment of a discouraged teacher. Now, as the end of the school years is upon us, and as many Special Education classes have simply slipped into survival mode, here you are still pouring yourself out for our little boy.

I want you to know how thankful we are that you have not given up on our son this year.

You know better than anyone else that this has been a hard year. With every milestone crossed, there has been a new mountain to climb. With every behavior overcome, there was a new behavior that seemed to take its place. As it goes sometimes in the world of Autism, this year has been a never ending journey to try to help quench the insatiable need for sensory input and curb the overwhelming impulsivity that seems to try swallow our precious little boy.

It would have been so easy for you to give up. It would have been so easy for you to maintain a survival mode mentality. It is because of your refusal to give into defeat and your determination to not just allow my child to “pass through” your classroom, that we were able to confidently entrust our child to you each day.

So, now it’s time. We need to talk. I want to make sure you understand all the reasons why THIS was my child’s BEST year of school, even though it was the hardest.

Constant Communication

There were very few mornings this year that I did not drop my child off at school without my stomach being in knots or at least a few tears streaming down my cheeks. I knew that my child would be well taken care of, but I was just so burdened for him and for how his day would go. He struggled this year. As a Momma, when our babies are struggling, it’s just so hard not to worry.

Your constant communication was what helped me to get through each day. I knew that I would receive pictures of my child and sometimes even videos.  I knew that you would keep me updated on the good, the bad, and the ugly throughout the day.

Every afternoon when I got home from work, I would go straight to my child’s backpack to check his folder to see what you had written about his day. I knew that if for some reason you were unable to write in his folder that day, you were just a text or phone call away.

Teachers of Special Education Students sometimes lose sight of the fact that our children cannot tell us about their experiences at school. They cannot tell us what made them sad or happy. They cannot tell us about their huge accomplishments or things that made them frustrated. You, the teacher, are the only link between school and home. If you had not told me, I would have never known. Thank you for your constant communication.

Honesty

You’re a straight shooter, and I’m so thankful for that. While you have capitalized on my son’s strengths and celebrated his many accomplishments this year, you also shared his struggles with us.

I’ve heard the almost mechanical, half-hearted answer of “Oh, he did so great” from many caregivers and teachers before. They are afraid they will hurt our feelings. They don’t like yucky conversations. The truth of the matter is that my child’s well-being and future are on the line, and as the parent of a child with special needs, I don’t have time for flowery conversations if, in fact, not everything is “so great”.

 This year, Autism for our child meant struggles with aggression, impulsivity, and sensory integration, among other things. Your honesty helped us to gage what kind of help our son needed. Your honesty helped to shape his Speech and Occupational Therapy sessions at home. Your honesty helped his Neurologist and Psychiatrist to make informed decisions as they worked with us to help our son learn new coping mechanisms and as they worked to develop a plan that would best serve our child.

I truly believe that the open and honest dialogue we have had with each other this year is one of the main reasons that we consider this year to be a success. There is very little progress that can be made in the life of a Special Education Student unless the teacher is willing to honestly give feedback to the child’s parents. Thank you for your honesty.

Care and Compassion

It has occurred to me that no one outside of our home has a better understanding of our life, than you. Loneliness is a common struggle amongst families who have children with special needs. We wonder how on earth anyone could possibly imagine what our day to day is like. But you know. By having my child in your class, you are privy to an understanding of my sweet boy that others just are not able to have. It is what you do with this special understanding that makes all the difference in the lives of families like mine. And what you have done is show an abundance of care and compassion.

When people think of a Special Education Teacher, I’m not sure they envision the multiple times we have sat together in a dark room beside my sweet boy as he laid rolled up in his stretchy blanket on the floor, trying to calm down. I’m not sure people think about the late afternoon phone calls when my son has had a possible seizure and you are the only person I know to call because you’ve seen him have one before. I’m not sure people realize that the only constant with Autism is change, as you have helped my child meet his ever shifting needs by finding weight and then compression, light and then dark, water and sand, walking with the service dog and then sitting in his box. I’m not sure people think about all the many times you have called to check up on my boy, just to make sure he is ok after a hard day.

Teaching my child is more than a job to you. You have invested in my child and have truly cared for him and his success in your classroom. You were not content to just let him be. Each day was a new day and my son knew that you had not given up on him. You have cared, struggled, disciplined, celebrated, cried, pushed, and have poured yourself out for my little boy. You cared enough to challenge my son and you had compassion enough to love him unconditionally. Care and compassion are not things that can be taught when you go to school to become a teacher. You either have them, or you don’t. Thank you for the care and compassion that you have relentlessly shown our little boy, and our family.

It’s true, it’s been a hard year. I am so thankful that the Lord gave us you for this season in our child’s life. I know you must have days that are exhausting and discouraging. Press on dear teacher! You are making a difference and your hard work does not go unnoticed. Because of your constant communication, your honesty covered in love, and your care and compassion, I can say that this has been my child’s BEST year of school, even though it was his hardest. Thank you for loving him enough to not just settle. Thank you for not just surviving. Thank you for being you!

To the Teacher's Aide in My Son's Special Education Classroom: I See What You Are Doing

As the parent of a child with special needs, I cannot help but be an overemotional ball of overprotectiveness most of the time. I have decided that this is not a downfall, it’s my job. I must be my child’s voice, until he finds his own. I must be my child’s eyes, until he can tell me what goes on around him each day. I must be wise and very discerning of the people I allow to surround my child, because he cannot tell me for himself how they treat him. I must be my child’s advocate on every front, because that is the sacred calling that the Lord has hand-picked for me.

It is because of this sacred calling, that I watch and I protect. And I want to send this message to the teacher’s aide in my son’s Special Education Classroom: I See What You Are Doing.

I see you early in the morning as you greet my little boy in the drop off lane at school. I see how you smile with excitement about another day as he wraps his little arms and legs around you when you lift him out of our car. I see you in class pictures sitting with my child in your lap. I see how he loves to give you hugs and kisses your cheek. I see the gentle hand you use to help guide him into the classroom and how you keep a watchful eye on him to make sure he is always safe. I see the pre-cut triangles and squares that you helped to prepare for my little one to learn with.

I know that you have been there for my child as he struggles to the ground in an Autistic meltdown. I heard how you placed your hands under his head to help protect it from the hard ground. I know that you have walked the empty halls a million times with my little one to help calm his overwhelmed mind. I know that you help my child with the smallest of tasks such as cutting up his food, drinking from a cup, eating his food, going to the bathroom, and washing his clothes after a sensory activity that he had a little too much fun with.  You have learned his personality, his quirks, his strengths and his weaknesses.  Yes, I can see what you are doing.

You are building a relationship with a precious child that longs for connection. You are growing trust in a little boy who feels as though the world is coming at him every second of the day. You are pouring yourself into a child that can rarely offer up a “thank you.”

Let me remind you of something that you already know: my child is brilliant. He can sense love and compassion a mile away. On the other hand, he also knows immediately if someone feels uncomfortable around him or if they are working with him because they have to verses if they want to. Ezra does not learn well in a hostile or begrudging situation. He has to feel comfortable with the people that surround him. You are partially responsible for creating an atmosphere that is conducive to my child’s ability to learn. Thank you for loving him so well. Yes, I can see what you are doing.

I know you have days that are rewarding. I can see the love and trust my child has for you and I hope you can see that too. I also know you have days that are exhausting and so very discouraging. Thank you for not giving up. Because of your unconditional love for children like mine, my little boy knows that each day is a new day and that he is worth showing up for.

Yes, I see what you are doing. Your hard work does not go unnoticed. My child notices you. I notice you. Because God has given me this incredible gift of being the protector of my special boy, I watch so very carefully. Because my precious child cannot verbally tell me about his experience at school, I cannot help but take in every little detail about what I see. And I see what you are doing.

I am not sure what the world’s perception is about a Special Education or Life Skills Teacher’s Aide. I’m not sure if people realize all that you do. I believe that one of the most overlooked and underpaid positions is that of a Special Education Paraprofessional. If I could, I would give each one of you a big raise and a superhero cape. But because I cannot, all I can offer is my heartfelt gratitude. I want you to know that I see what you are doing, and I am so thankful for you.

As I write this, I count myself so very blessed that it brings tears to my eyes. Ezra has such an amazing PPCD teacher who works tirelessly with Ezra and with our family to make sure that he succeeds (more about that in another upcoming blog). But, over the years Ezra has also had multiple teacher’s aides in each of his classrooms who have had a tremendous impact on him and his success in the classroom. Each of them have thrown themselves in 100% to loving and caring for children like mine. They could have not cared so much, but they did. It is because of these amazing professionals (and his awesome teachers) that my son has had an environment of support and love. I have no doubt that Ezra would not have overcome and learned as much as he already has without these incredible educators. If you work in a special education classroom, PRESS ON! Your work does not go unnoticed. I see what you are doing!

Ezra at school. As I understand it, it was the normally scheduled time for Ezra's class to go outside. Ezra lined up, on his shape, all on his own because he is super smart like that. I can just imagine him thinking "Don't they realize what time it is!? They are going to make me late!"

Ezra at school. As I understand it, it was the normally scheduled time for Ezra's class to go outside. Ezra lined up, on his shape, all on his own because he is super smart like that. I can just imagine him thinking "Don't they realize what time it is!? They are going to make me late!"

August was a Doozy

One of the conclusions that I have come to as a special needs mom is this: August stinks! Plain and simple. August is a busy time for all parents with last minute vacations, buying school supplies, school registration, meet the teacher, Sunday School promotion, the list goes on and on. You see, I’m one of those “regular” moms too. I have a beautiful (neurotypical) five year old that I had the awesome privilege of doing all these Month of August Milestones with. She was so excited about it all and we had a blast!

August is a month of change. Change can be hard for anyone, but especially for a family with a special needs child.

You see, I am also the mom of a special needs child. To say that change is hard for my sweet little boy who has Autism would be an understatement. Typically, children who are “on the spectrum” require stability, strict schedules, and structure…none of which includes change. Change initiates a whole new realm of sights, sounds, smells, and people to get used to. Change initiates SENSORY OVERLOAD.

 As a mom of a special needs child, besides the before mentioned “typical” Month of August Milestones that we attempt or even “stumble through” with our special needs children, there are some other milestones that we must face each August as well.

Here are just a few of the Special Needs Month of August Milestones we have encountered:

-ARD meetings: (Special Ed meetings with the school regarding the services our child will be offered) Thankfully, we have group of school staff that has been more than willing to give our child as much help as they possibly can, that has worked with us, and listened to us. This is not always the case with every special needs family in every school district. I have heard many heartbroken parents re-tell how they must go in “fighting” for their child to have services and to receive help that he/she needs. Their confidence in their child’s educators is diminished by the school’s lack of special needs advocacy.

- Paper work/Assessments/ Evaluations: You must understand that the amount of paper work that a parent must constantly fill out on their special needs child is extensive to say the least. Last week I completed a packet that took all of two and a half hours. Paperwork is a necessary factor in our situation that I am neither griping nor complaining about…but it’s the content of this paperwork that stings. This paper work is a very real reminder of your child’s delays, digression, and lack of progression. It sparks questions in your mind that you hadn't even thought of yet: I didn't even think about THAT behavior becoming an issue. Is that something my child is going to struggle with in the future?  It require us parents to answer tough questions like having to circle the answer  Other children consider my child different or Yes, my child has odd behaviors. And even though us special needs parents are very aware of our child’s disability and love our children so very much just as they are- it hurts. Yes, August brings the opening up of old wounds.

- New Programs (church or extracurricular activities): Each August brings an array of new coaches, therapist, Sunday School classrooms/teachers, etc. All the time you spent last year helping these people to know, understand, and love your child begins all over again with a new set of faces. This is something I have learned- people can love to work with children, but that does not necessarily mean that they love to/or feel comfortable with working with special needs children. And so this balance of personalities, feelings, and passions begins to intertwine. As the parent, you hope and pray that these new set of faces will fall in love with your child, just as you have (and as you are praying, your child is spitting all over everything or throwing wood-chips across the playground). You pray that these adults will allow themselves to be stretched and to be willing to love, nurture, and teach outside of what is considered “normal”.

Compile all of these things within the context of the “typical” Moth of August Milestones that our special needs children struggle through as it is, and it can be quite an overwhelming feat.

So, back to my original comment: August stinks!

I am sharing all this to say: If you know a special needs parent, go give them a high five, a “way to go”, or maybe even just a big ol hug. Because chances are they have been very depleted this past month. Chances are they have gotten very little sleep as they have stayed up with their sweet child throughout the night (because that’s what change does to our children). Chances are their mind keeps flashing back to the judgmental glances of others as their child laid sprawled out on the floor in the hallway because they knew this wasn't their classroom from last year, this is a new classroom. Chances are they have had a lump in the back of their throat much of the time, as they have had to “fight” for their child-for their child to be included, accepted, to receive help, and to be given a chance. Chances are they feel misunderstood because they have been operating on their last delicate nerve from all that August had to offer. 

As August has come and gone, families like ours will still take a while to get used to the Back to School daily grind. Oh sweet friends, please find understanding in your heart for our little ones. They are having to adjust to so many new things right now- things that the rest of don’t even think about or take for granted. They need you to offer compassion, as do their parents.

And as for this mom, I’m headed out to meet another special needs family for dinner this evening. If you see us sitting with a blank, tired stare, you will know why. But more than likely you will see us smiling, possibly crying, chatting, laughing, and maybe even hugging; because that’s what fellowship does- it refreshes. So, go refresh a special needs parent if you know one.  Because August was a doozy!

 

*These pictures below were our attempt at First Day of School pictures. If you have a child with Autism then you know that capturing anything on camera is hard to do!  So, this is all I got!     (click on the picture to see the progression)

My Back to School Prayer for My Special Needs Child

My Heavenly Father,

I lift up my precious baby boy to you. As much as I love him, I know that you love Ezra with a love far greater than I could ever comprehend. He is your child. I ask that you pour out your blessings upon him as he begins another school year.

Lord, I lift up Ezra’s teacher to you. I ask that you would grace her with patience, understanding, and compassion in extra measure. I pray that when the hard days come, because they will, that you would refresh her spirit and rekindle the passion she must have to work with such a special group of children. I ask that you would give her the energy and courage necessary to not allow my child to settle but to push him and to help him grow and learn. Father, more than anything else, I pray that his teacher would fall in love with him just as we have. May there be opportunities for them to share a smile and a snuggle. I pray she would look upon my child with unconditional love. I ask that you would purpose it in her heart to be one of Ezra’s greatest advocates. And Lord, I thank you for her. I thank you for her love of special children like mine.

I lift up Ezra’s bus drivers, teacher’s aides, therapists, and principals to you, Lord. Again, I pray that they would fall in love with his contagious smile and sweet heart. I pray that he would not be looked at as an unfortunate statistic but as an amazing individual with incredible potential. I ask that as a whole, this group of staff would not assume that “He can’t”, but rather “He might if we try. If we push him. If we believe in him.” Please put a burden on their heart to connect with Ezra and to see what an awesome little man he is. Let their hands be your hands, their hearts be your heart, their words be your words, and let your mercy flow through all those who will come in contact with Ezra this year.

And finally, I lift up my sweet Ezra to you. I pray that his classroom would be a place of comfort, security, excitement, and learning. I ask that you would calm his spirit and give him the self-control to be able to grow and learn. May the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, patience, gentles, faithfulness, goodness, kindness, and self-control dwell within him (Galatians 5:20-25). May he be blessed with the strength to overcome challenges.  It is my desire, Lord, that he would feel accepted and loved for exactly who he is and that he would be offered every opportunity to achieve. I pray that he would be able to make a friend this year- a true connection to a fellow classmate. May his frustrations in not being able to communicate melt away this year as he develops the skills necessary to express himself. And most importantly, I ask you Lord for your provision and protection of him. I pray that he will be able to control his impulses to flee and I pray for a watchful eye from all of the school faculty. Father, use Ezra’s struggle to build perseverance, develop character, and also to bring hope to all whose path he crosses.

 I am placing my hope and my trust in You, Lord, for a year of great milestones. For I know that nothing is too hard or impossible for you! As hard as it is to “let go” and watch my little baby go off to school, I thank you Father, that he is not alone. I thank you that you go with him each and every day. I entrust him to your care.

Amen