Tragedies that take kids too soon are always unexpected. As busy moms, we just forget that we are all fragile. We sometimes forget that the messy room, the lapse in homework, the bad grade, aren't the important things about mothering.
How crushing would it be to know that others think you are a lesser human being? Or that you are an "unlucky child" (who grows into an unlucky adult)? Our kids need every bit of confidence they can get in this world.
Adults are really good at understanding the thoughts of others. Children -- not so much. Rebecca Saxe tells us the part of the brain responsible for thinking about others' minds reaches maximum growth during adulthood.
News reports may frighten us, and it may be the images that first capture our interest, evoke our emotions and make it impossible for us to look away, but it is the personal stories that stay with us, change us for the better and eventually help us heal.
When the nurses took Atticus to the nursery a few hours after his birth because his temperature was low, it didn't occur to me to be afraid. Even when a nurse entered the room with a doctor who introduced herself as a neonatologist, it didn't trigger an alarm.
It's easy to make fun of the A for effort, the trophy for participation, but the fact is, for Schuyler and countless kids just like her, those trophies are the ones that sit on their shelves. And they're not cheap tokens of faint praise, either.
There just isn't a teacher, a doctor or other well-meaning professional who definitively knows what is "best" for my child. As Zoe's mother, I see her as the whole child she is: her spirit, her strengths, her abilities.
Like an insurance company that reimburses for pre-existing conditions, I will turn a blind eye to my "already-friends" with seemingly flawless children. But I do prefer to spend time among those who, like I, live on the edge.
People often talk about the difficulties associated with parenting a child with autism. But this post isn't about that. I want to recognize and celebrate the upside of autism, a blessing we "special needs parents" are given somewhere, somehow -- packaged up in a gift I like to call "perspective."
There's no way you'd spot us in a crowd. We don't have a secret handshake. But somehow special needs parents always manage to find each other. Maybe it's that unmistakable look of exhaustion and resolve many of us wear. Whatever it is, I've been part of this family for 20 years.
Sometimes days spent with children on the autistic spectrum begin to feel like "groundhog day" as we parents are forced to adhere, because of our children's need for sameness, to carefully-crafted schedules and routines.
I think I speak for many moms of kids with special needs when I say we don't want pity; it's isolating. But a smile or words that say hey, motherhood is tough -- any kind of motherhood is tough -- are reassuring.
Providing therapy in the home can be a rewarding and valuable experience, building wonderful relationships between families and therapists that can last for years. Just remember to establish rules from the start and get everyone involved.
Delays and disorders of expressive language lead to aggression, fear, isolation and significant frustration. Out of these myriad emotions, a new form of communication emerges, something that is often reminiscent of an ultimate charades fail moment.
Raising a child with any disorder, condition or special need, is both a blessing and a challenge. A challenge for the obvious reasons, and a blessing because you don't know the depths of victory until you see your child overcoming some of those challenges.