You will learn to be a fighter. You will find strength you never realized you had and overcome your fear of confrontation. You do this because not doing this is not an option. That baby girl needs you to be this way. And you're not about to let that girl down.
Using more neutral terminology to describe a person with intellectual disability, when they need to be described at all, is just one more way to respect them. Not the only way, of course; just one. An easy one.
I know there's some really bad stuff that goes along with having a child with autism. But I'm also aware that there's an abundance of gratitude, support, grace, hope, happiness, acceptance and love in our life thanks, in part, to autism.
Being the mother of a special needs child has given me a unique perspective. I have the ability to celebrate the simple moments of parenting, but it has also made fluid my own definition of what I perceive successful parenting to be.
The best piece of advice I ever got about raising a child with special needs was to look at how he's doing, not at his medical records or the X-rays of his brain with all the grayish-white blobs where the damage occurred.
I'm not saying my life or child's should become someone else's teaching moment. I'm just saying, the same perspective that we supposedly gain by virtue of having an autistic child, we somehow selectively forget when given the opportunity to apply it to our NT parent friends.
As I turn the corner in our neighborhood, I catch sight of my pink and purple Rainbow Loom bracelet against the steering wheel; it is one of the first Zoe made. It stays on my right hand as a reminder not to underestimate my girl, and all she has taught us along the way.
I feel her sigh as she lays against me. Her body now almost as long as mine, laying now like she did so often as an infant, her head against my breast, her long curls masking her face. This first daughter of mine, I would do anything for -- this is real, this is us, this is love.
Another young boy sped toward us on his bike. I made comparisons, knowing I was breaking another rule. Don't compare your child to anyone else. I couldn't help it. The sight of him seemed to reaffirm the success of our experiment. We were having a normal day in the park.
I never imagined that she would thank me. That she would be the one to make sure our holiday magic remains, by reminding us of the true meaning of Christmas and how special our family time together will always be -- even without Santa.
When you start thinking about becoming a Mom the first things that pop into your mind is whether you will have a boy or a girl, what will the name be and what they will be when they grow up. You don't stop to think will he/she have special needs! Down Syndrome!
As I continued to lift her into the car, very softly she exclaimed "that was fun..," and instead of reaching for her seat belt as I had planned, in reverse I helped her back out of the car, until we stood facing each other, our feet planted in the same puddle.