My kids have special needs. There is no denying that. I do not have my head in the sand. At the same time, that is not who they are. Not even a little. My kids are so much more than that.
I could go on and on about each of us, throwing out diagnosis: scoliosis, spina bifida, DCD, ADHD, APD and so on. You will rarely however hear or see me use these words in the same sentence as my kids. There are lots of words that describe us, that get to the essence of who we are, but none of them are the name of a condition.
My kids are not letters. My kids are not fancy medical words and terms you only understand if you work in the medical field or happen to have them or know someone who does. I’m going to tell you about who my kids ARE rather than what they HAVE.
My daughter is happy, helpful and active. She has that special kind of laugh that you can’t help but join in with. We can find her in any store, or at any event by listening for the laugh. She was voted “Most Likely to Cheer You Up” by her senior class and people of all ages all over town call out and greet her by name everywhere we go. She will try almost anything, and if she doesn’t get it quite right, and you ask her to try again, she will do so with the same amount of enthusiasm over and over again until she figures it out. And then there is a celebration like no other, until the next time.
My son is clever, imaginative, creative, sweet, kind, and will give you his jacket if you look cold, or his food if you look hungry. He’s into Minecraft and makes videos of himself playing for his friends. He likes to collect and play with Magic cards. His 8th grade class decided he is “Most likely to Become a Comedian” (class clown). He is currently building a computer from the ground up with his dad’s help. He is way harder on himself than anyone else is, and way harder on himself than he is on others. No matter how badly he is treated, or how many times, he will forgive you and still see the good in you.
I am loyal, caring, and will go to the ends of the earth for a friend or family member. I occasionally get taken advantage of, but I keep helping anyway. I like to watch cooking shows, but hate to cook. I am crafty and love to crochet, cross stitch, and do a variety of other crafty things. I am the appointment scheduler, family taxi driver, and chief laundry washer.
Most people do not understand my children and my household. I hear, “I don’t know how you do it” almost daily. Usually I just smile, but the answer in my head is, “What choice do I have?” I know it is meant to be a compliment, but I just do what most moms do. I love my kids for who they are, and we all work together. Some days I can’t “do it”, but those are the days my kids and my husband step up and fill in the gaps as best they can until I can get up and try again.
What I want most is for us to be seen as people first. As humans with strengths and weaknesses just like everyone else. That our special needs are not who we are. They are a small part of our makeup. Sometimes people with disabilities look different, some they look just like everyone else. Regardless of our diagnoses we are people first last and always, with hopes, dreams and feelings, just like all humans.