The Unsung Heroes!

Sarah Brisdion's avatar

by Sarah Brisdion

There is a person, who is an integral cog in our special needs family machine. Whom my husband and I rarely see much of. But who shapes our world and who dramatically makes it better.

She rarely gets any credit. She is a grafter. She is a multi-tasker. 

She is a saint at times. She is sympathetic and supportive. She is encouraging and positive. 

She does not give in to emotional blackmail and will not have the wool pulled over her eyes.

But she is kind and gentle. She knows more about my son than I do sometimes, and is absolutely vital in the wellbeing of our child, both physically and emotionally.

Nope, not Mary Poppins. But close. She is my son’s Teaching Assistant (one to one) at school.

For months we worried about Hadley starting school.

He was so anxious. Vomiting at the thought of it and generally petrified. Which in turn, meant we were petrified!

We thought that we would have to consider homeschooling as our only viable option. (I have nothing against that at all you understand, but that would have been my last resort, as I needed to go back to work).

Having somebody to care for your child who truly understands their needs is so important. But it’s very difficult to achieve.

To find a person who has the time to dedicate to the vocation of looking after a child with so many additional needs in mainstream school is hard (let’s face it, they definitely don’t do it for the money!). We found that out during the recruitment process with very few applicants!

Fortunately for us, amongst those few applicants, was the brave and selfless person the school employed to support our child.

What sets her apart, asides her brilliant personality and nature, is that her son also has Cerebral Palsy.

She has been through similar experiences. She just gets it. In fact more than that.

She’s already seen and lived our future and she knows what’s coming next to some extent, before we do.

She knows how far to push, what to look for, when to do what and she has our backs.

Without her experience and input, I would be a nervous wreck. I would be constantly on edge, wondering if his equipment was being used correctly. If he was safe. If he was happy. If he was able to achieve his best. If mainstream school was a mistake.

But because this guardian angel is there (I know that sounds dramatic, but it’s true). I am more relaxed. I am able to work. I believe I can be a better mummy.

I feel like I have somebody who is truly on our side. I feel supported. I feel all the things she makes my child feel.

I believe that working one -to- one with a child with Special Educational Needs is one of the most challenging, most rewarding and most crucial roles in child care and education.

It’s physically and mentally demanding, yet very unfairly rewarded financially.

But I’m sure if you ask Hadley’s TA (and I know this to be true), she will tell you that she doesn’t do it for the money.

She does it because she has already watched her son go through mainstream school and knows how this all works.

She understands that our child needs somebody who is able to forsee future issues and stop them in their tracks by bringing them up early, asking for the right equipment or simply providing us and the teaching staff with some valued advice.

She knows the difference that can make and wants that for our family. Because she wanted it for hers.

I will be forever grateful that this wonderful person chose the vocation she did. And that she chose to accept the role of caring for our son.

That through her dedication, she has made our lives that little bit less stressful.

I hope one day, when Hadley is older, I can do the same for another family. Because that is a wonderful gift.

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