I haven’t spoken much to the special needs side of our journey. Having a child with any kind of special needs is deeply personal and yet painfully apparent. I’m not ready, and I don’t know if I ever will be ready for my child to be the poster child for special needs advocacy.
However, having a child with special needs and abilities can be a very lonely and internal journey. I write today in an attempt to off-set that, even if just for this moment.
When you have a child with special needs you learn what they need and how you can best help them function. What may not look normal to one family, becomes your family’s normal as you navigate this journey. On the good days, you function within your family’s “normal” and you avoid any major meltdowns or catastrophes. You can experiences days, sometimes even weeks that go by as you live your “normal” and then it hits you like a ton of bricks out of no where that to anyone watching from the outside in you are not normal. Maybe you even think to yourself in those sad and ugly moments that your child is not normal, your family is not at all normal.
If you allow yourself you can become overwhelmed with the challenges that your child and your family faces. You can worry about all that they might not be able to do, and all that you will have to help them overcome (if they can even overcome it). You can mourn the loss of everything you have dreamed for your child.
Having a child with special needs and abilities can leave you living in a constant cycle of grief. Just when you have found yourself in the stage of acceptance and living that new “normal” the denial and isolation creeps back in.
This journey through special needs parenting is too new for me to know how it will look years from now. In taking with other parents, and experiencing what we have thus far I imagine this cycle will continue to repeat its self. I know that as we conquer challenges and reach a stage of acceptance new challenges can surface and we will fight that isolation and denial once again. That is life with a child with special needs…
But – there are also these special abilities. The strengths that your child holds that leave you amazed at all they can do. Yes, your child has challenges and needs that may be special to them, but these abilities are just as special. These abilities may take your child further then their needs will ever hold them back! In that I find peace and strength to carry on in our “normal” and love all that my child is and all that my child can and will be!