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The Annual September Letter to Teachers

Shelly Christensen smiling headshot

Shelly Christensen

Every September, I wrote a letter to our son Jacob’s teachers. I came across this letter while searching for something else in my overcrowded computer files and I’m glad I did. While Jacob is years past high school, past college, and is working in the IT sector, the letter stands the test of time.

As parents, we know a great deal about those young people who live with us around the clock. I began writing letters to teachers in middle and high school to introduce them to Jacob. Teachers were grateful for the introductions that helped smooth the path toward a good teacher-student-parent relationship.

Dear Teachers,

I would like to introduce you to our son, Jacob. He’s the blond-haired blue-eyed student who loves to read. In fact, he will probably walk into your classroom with a book and keep reading even after class has begun. Please don’t let that throw you. Reading is calming for Jacob, and he most often needs that when he transitions from class to class. I know this is hard to believe, but he is still listening to you even though he’s reading! Would you please have a private conversation with Jacob to discuss at what point he should close his book and put it away? Jacob will appreciate having a dialogue with you, and is more than willing to share with you what he needs. Then, you can agree on when the book goes away. This has worked for all of his middle and high school years.

Jacob is a smart young man who happens to be on the autism spectrum, which affects his ability to read social cues. He also has some very strong and select interests, such as Japanese anime. By the way, he’s taking Japanese later this year.

Please get to know Jacob. He’s a remarkable young man. He works part time as a dietary aide. He is the middle brother in our family. Jacob has a ready smile, and he is caring and very nice. He gets along much better with adults than with his peers, so you won’t see him with many friends. But he wants to make friends very much.

We model advocacy for Jacob, and he is involved in his IEP process. His case manager, Sue, knows him very well, too, and she will be a great resource for you. We have built in communication through Sue between home and school. We are always available to answer questions, help problem solve or just give you some insight into Jacob.

Thank you for all that you are doing. We look forward to partnering with you this year.

P.S. If you’re ever having a day where you would like a good laugh, have a conversation with Jacob. His dry wit keeps us in good humor, even when things get difficult.

Meet the Author

Shelly Christensen

Shelly Christensen is the Senior Director of Faith Inclusion and Belonging at RespectAbility.

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