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What Every Special Needs Parent Needs to Hear, by David and Mercedes Rizzo

A few weeks ago, our 21-year-old daughter Danielle transitioned out of the school setting. She remained in high school several years longer than the customary four years due to her diagnosis of autism. For the last three years, her school has been working with her on additional life and vocational skills.

This was a sad and happy day for us. Sad because she loves school, has made such tremendous progress, and has been taught by many kind and dedicated professionals. Happy because it marked a successful milestone in her life.

Her teachers put together a video to say goodbye and to help her remember them and also how much she meant to them. In the video, different staff members told Danielle how grateful they were to have worked with her through the years. These are some of the things that were said:

“Your smile always brightens my day and touches people’s hearts.”

“You are a beautiful person inside and out”.

“You taught me and everyone around you how to celebrate the little accomplishments.”

“I am grateful to have spent so much time with you.”

“You have taught me so many things, so much more than I thought I could teach you.”

“So many people will miss you. I have been lucky to have been your teacher.”

We loved hearing these wonderful sentiments because they reinforced for us that we made the correct choice for Danielle in terms of her school placement years ago. When your child is not able to communicate, you don’t always know the right thing to do to help them.

Most parents of special-needs children have at some point questioned God as to why their child has to face such struggles. No human being knows the answer to that question, but God, the author of life, knows it. We often can see a glimpse of the answer in the reactions of others to our children.

We know that our Danielle has had a profound effect on many people, including therapists, teachers, doctors and even total strangers. When people meet her and are affected by her, that is part of God’s plan too. Danielle and all individuals with special needs are, as Psalm 139 proclaims, wonderfully made.


David and Mercedes write and speak from a faith perspective as parents of a child with autism. Visit DavidAndMercedesRizzo.comto learn more.

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