Many years ago while my children were little, my family and I were having breakfast at a hotel buffet. Anyone with young children knows the challenges of helping younger children in a buffet line, their own struggles for independence, the forgotten items needed to complete the meal, and the inability to eat as a complete family unit due to staggering of food arrivals and start times.

Buffets were even more difficult for my family because my kids were special needs kids. We attracted a lot of attention at times. My kids were louder and needed more attention and assistance at times. At times I felt that I never finished a meal, that I was up and down constantly, that I was forever stopping and starting something. My attention was never on one thing or one person, it was forever jumping from one child to another. I was always asking the kids to lower their voices, slow down. I didn’t feel like I paid enough attention to anything.

During breakfast that day, a slight touch on my arm got my attention and an older woman simply said, “My husband and I are special education teachers. Parents of special needs kids don’t get recognized for what they do. You are doing a marvelous job.” She turned and walked away before I could say a word. Tears filled my eyes and I couldn’t speak. This encounter carried me through many difficult times. She will never know the power she had and how she has helped me throughout my life.

Never be afraid to speak out and encourage someone. This gift costs you little and may last a lifetime for the other person.