Recognizing the special educators who’ve lifted my daughter

Our annual fundraiser for Rett syndrome research honors valued school staff

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by Jackie Babiarz |

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Each year, we give out a Ripple of Hope Award at our annual fundraiser in honor of our daughter Cammy, who has Rett syndrome. It’s given to a person or group that gives us hope for a future of inclusion, acceptance, and embracing one another’s differences. This year’s award, presented at the April 29 event, went to special education staff at Cammy’s schools.

From the moment 3-year-old Cammy went to preschool until now, as she’s getting ready to graduate from eighth grade, staff members in our school district’s special education department have given us hope. Cammy’s preschool team, for instance, helped her establish social, communication, and early life skills. They believed in her, and she flourished.

During elementary school, Cammy made meaningful friendships, all cultivated by the tremendous staff and her peer buddies. She began believing in herself thanks to them. Members of her middle school team understood that our main goal was for Cammy to enjoy life. Their every activity, lesson, therapy, and communication related to Cammy’s life skills and happiness.

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All educators deserve our utmost respect and support. They’re often extensions of our families, especially for those of us in the Rett community. We hand to them our most precious possessions — our children.

But anyone who works in special education especially deserves all the love, support, and money in the world. These incredible humans do way more than any of us know. They not only take on our unique children, but they also take on our family traumas. Further, they’re physically lifting, changing, and repositioning kids like Cammy, and they’re emotionally invested in them, too.

Special education teachers can create up to 12 lessons every single school day for each one of their students’ individual needs. They de-escalate children in crisis, and in the meantime they protect them from injuring themselves while keeping all staff members safe.

While they’re trying to include all of our children, they often feel they’re on their own island, where they’re unsupported. It’s tough to work in special education, as I have long known — both from Cammy’s experience and from my work in adaptive physical education.

These remarkable educators lift up their students, not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally. The love and respect we have for them is beyond any words. This award at our fundraiser, where all proceeds go to the International Rett Syndrome Foundation for research, is a small token of our eternal gratitude — not only for what they’ve done for Cammy and our family, but also for all families navigating their way through the special needs world.

Note: Rett Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Rett Syndrome News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Rett syndrome.


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