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School Psychology Corner: A ‘Thank You Letter’ to Families Affected by Autism

by Stephanie Foster Brown, Certified School Psychologist

When I chose a career as a school psychologist, I knew I would work with many families affected by autism. But what I didn’t anticipate, was just how much I would learn from those exceptional parents and their children. The experience challenged me, as a professional, to always filter what I learned in my training through my heart. And as a mom, it has inspired me to parent with greater tenacity, perseverance, and patience. While I’m not sure words can capture my immense gratitude for what I’ve gained from our crossing of paths, I salute families affected by autism this month and always with sincerest thanks . . .

Thank you for teaching me how to advocate for my child . . .
I’ve watched you fight for your child in a way that only a parent could. With dogged strength, you’ve gone to bat for the things you knew your child needed. Someday, my little girls will need something. It might be something big or small. But it will be out of my reach as a parent. Because of your example though, I will muster all the perseverance and persistence I know to be possible to push for that something. I will talk until someone listens, call until someone picks up, ask until something changes.

Thank you for helping me see myself as the “expert” on my child . . .
For me, nothing has been more compelling than your intuition, your insight, and your wisdom as a parent. You speak from a place that research, case studies, and specialists cannot. Because of you, I will never be afraid to question or challenge a voice of authority.  Nor will I silence the voice of reason that sounds from my heart.

Thank you for reminding me to see my child as a whole person . . .
While some see deficits and disabilities when they look at your child, you see your child in their entirety . . .  full of strengths, vulnerabilities, lovable quirks and idiosyncrasies, interests and abilities. I have so many things I want to teach my girls and so many things I want them to know about the world around them. But your example reminds me never to allow parenting to become a project or to forsake life’s journey for hasty end-goals. You remind me to see the whole person that is my child, all the good and the not so good . . . and more importantly, to accept it all because that ALL is MY child.

Thank you for helping me realize the times when I’m not enough . . .
I’ve watched you, with great humility, allow others to care for and provide resources for your child that you could not. As a mom, I wish I could meet every single need of my child. But while I have so much to give, I am limited. Thank you for helping me to see, as humbling as it is, all the good that can come when we, as parents, step aside and allow the village to care for our children.

Thank you for reminding me that my journey through parenthood is uniquely my own . . 
While I can emphasize with your experience, I do not fully know what it is to walk in your shoes. Thank you for reminding me to respect the journey of every parent. You inspire me to be less judging of myself and others in the decisions we make regarding our families.

About the Author:  Stefanie Foster Brown is a certified school psychologist who recently relocated to Tampa from Long Island, NY. She previously hosted Preschoology , a blog where parents and school professionals can find fresh ideas, tips, and tools to help young children learn and grow. She and her computer engineer husband, Eli, have a special interest in exploring the synergy of technology and psychology. They are currently developing a series of educational mobile apps to teach young children new skills. Stefanie and her husband are also the proud parents of a spunky 2-yr-old daughter who is in charge of all the pilot-runs of their ideas. They are excited to welcome the arrival of their second daughter soon!


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