Saying Thank You

It’s the time of year when we special needs parents try to find a way to say thank you to the teachers and therapists who teach and care for our children in the form of a meaningful holiday gift or card.

How do you say thank you? How do you convey gratitude to the people who work with your precious one day after day, do the dirty bathroom work, rejoice over the big-small gains, and never give up? How do you appreciate the ones who have given you back your dreams and fueled you with new hopes and helped make your whole family better?  (Seriously, I want to know).

I’m always at a loss.

Someone once told me, ‘When you enter the special needs world,  you meet a whole new class of people.’ Brandon and I have found this to be true; those who have come into our lives as a result of Rhema’s autism have been huge blessings to us. My girl is a cutie, no doubt, but she can be quite a challenge and I’m grateful (and sometimes shocked!) that people besides me care for her so much.

I met the parents of one of Rhema’s teachers a couple months ago at a fundraising benefit for Rhema’s amazing-no-place-like-it-in-the-world school. Their daughter, Heather, loves my girl. She believes in her when others don’t, she is teaching her all of those important OT things I don’t know about, and how to trace her name.

When I met her parents, all I could say with all of my heart was,

“Thank you for Heather.”

Later, Heather’s father sent me an e-mail that I will cherish because he made me feel special and proud to be Rhema’s mom. I share some of it here because (1)  it demonstrates the great treasure these teachers are and, (2) it gave me a different perspective, that is, our children are a gift to their teachers.


Dear J,

I was very moved by your comment “Thank you for Heather”.   I’ve been thinking about these words quite a bit since you first said them and each time I am filled with pride.  But upon deeper reflection I want to thank you for Rhema and Hope.

You see, we have the same dreams for our children.  That is, we want them to reach their full potential and nothing less.  We also want to surround them with caring, loving people who will allow them to reach that potential.

Now, [her mother] and I have guided Heather as best we could and as a young adult she needs to find other caring, loving people to bring her to that next stage.  In order to reach that full potential, Heather needs:

Young children in her life because God has given her the gift to work with children.  Rhema is a beautiful child!

Young children who want to learn because she has the ability to teach.  Rhema wants to learn and is willing to be taught!

Young children with determination to meet seemingly unreachable goals because she believes in pushing people to “be all you can be”.  Rhema is determined and will reach her goals!

Young children that can love because she needs to be loved.  Rhema is lovable!

Rhema, wow, what a gift.  She is helping Heather reach her full potential…

Thank you for entrusting your daughter’s growth and development to Heather. 

May they continue to push each other to continue to be God’s gift to those who know them.

A short story:  In Heather’s short career she has the following routine.  When she leaves work she calls her mother, or me if Mom is unavailable, and tells us about her day. When she speaks of Rhema she typically says “My Rhema, I love my little Rhema”.  Your beautiful Rhema has become a blessing in our lives.  Thank you again for Rhema.


Heather’s Dad


Thank you to all of the Kates, Courtneys, Jills, Tims, Sarahs, Jennys, Cerissas, Katelyns, Terres and Heathers of the world for your life-changing work.

15 thoughts on “Saying Thank You

  1. Wow, the apples don’t fall far from the tree, do they? That letter is something to treasure, just like Rhema’s teacher is someone to treasure. But to answer your question, I have no idea. A gift card just doesn’t seem to cut it, does it?

  2. That is so beautiful. Rhema is so blessed to have such a wonderful woman from a wonderful family caring for her.

    In the spirit of this post, I just have to add here, because my heart too is swelling with thankfulness…thank you also to all of the Jessicas, Sarahs, Ambers, Theresas, Jens, Dianes and Ritas out there, too. Just this morning I woke up from a bad dream about this horribly uncaring therapist who was looking after my son. It made me remember all over again how incredibly blessed my son has been to have so many incredibly caring people who have help teach him in the past 15 months since his diagnosis.

  3. Wow! What an amazing email to have received. It always amazes me when people go out of their way to share their thoughts and kind words like this…but then, it is true that you encounter a whole different caliber of people when you enter the special needs world! Rhema is a gift in so many ways and you are a gift as well dear mama.

    I always feel the same way–there is nothing I can do that will encompass just how thankful I am to those who have worked with/helped the Roc. I try to tell them…but unless you walk in our shoes, they have no way of knowing exactly what it means to us. But I still try (card, homemade christmas cookies/candy, ornament, and words.)

  4. what a beautiful gift to have given you, and you to them.

    I found out last year with my son’s teachers that the best gift I could have given them was a gift of the words “Thank You”. I wrote them each a thank you letter, detailing the amazing progress my son had made under their care, and I sent a copy of each letter to the principal for their files. Each of them told me that no one had ever stopped to write a personal thank you note to them before.

    No gift card can ever say Thank You like you did here in this post 🙂

  5. Thanks for this post I know I am reading it long after it was written but I think it may give me the courage to write a letter I have wanted to write for some time.

    We were blessed with one of those amazing school counselors. He fought for my children in a way that I didn’t know was possible. He taught me how to be a mother to my children and gave me hope I didn’t know was possible. Every Christmas would come and I would want to do something for him. It felt awkward, he was Jewish, I didn’t know if I would offend him. No thank you seemed big enough for the things he had done for my family, and then out of nowhere he was diagnosed with cancer and passed away before I ever had the chance to tell him how I felt.

    I have always wanted to tell his family thank you for sharing him with us, I think you gave me the courage to do just that.

  6. I LOVE this story! How lucky are we to have these teachers and aides in our childrens’ lives?? They amaze me everyday with their patience and love for my son. Thank you SO much for sharing!
    BTW, I always give our helpers a gift, but I’m always quite sure that it’s never enough for all of the wonderful things they give my son and my family!

  7. I am amazed by the teachers in my son’s school and the progress he has made because of them. I was so inspired, I wrote and illustrated a children’s book about it which is dedicated to teachers and specialists who help our challenged kids. It’s called, “Tyler’s Magic Word Box,” and the word box is symbolic of the teachers who helped him. If you’d like to read the book online, it can be found here:

    Please feel free to leave a comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Or, join us on Facebook where we post stories of our kids successes and post positive, inspiring things for parents like your story above:

  8. I’m an aide in a PreK autism class. I love my job , is the best job that I ever had ,it’s so rewarding . I agree with someone who said that all we need is “thanks”. In the years that I worked with kids with autism we had parents that gave us big gifts and always say how much they appreciate us and parents than don’t . I always said that I don’t need expensive gifts , all I need is a piece of paper where it says thank you , is the most precious gift , besides being able to take care of these amazing kids and having the best job in the world. A piece of paper doesn’t cost anything !

  9. Lump in my throat.. I too have wondered how to express my gratitude to the teachers and therapists who work with Jack. They are angels… Nothing less.

  10. Pingback: Father, I want… « Autism In a Word

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