The Gift of a Special Needs Child
I remember exactly when I got the thick manila folder in the mail early last April. I was eager to pour over it. I probably should have waited for Josh to come back from his business trip, but I was ready. As my eyes bounced from word to word, my tears started to make their way down my cheeks.
The Gift of a Special Needs Child is part of the series, Party of Ten. It is a new, guest post series, by a mom deep in the throes of mothering. A wife and mom to eight children, Jamie writes from a tender heart, the experiences, the dilemmas, the struggles and the joys of large family living. She is real, transparent and intertwines the journey with encouragement, devotion and sincerity.
I know I was flipping pages, skipping things, and going back and forth to big words that I didn’t understand. I was feeling validated that I knew my suspicions were correct. I was feeling humored when he described my son’s ‘isms’ exactly. I was feeling excited that he put scientific words to what I knew but couldn’t explain.
Then I felt sad. Really sad. The stapled packet was wet with tears. After years of suspecting it, that packet of papers confirmed my 4th born is on the autism spectrum. Seeing the diagnosis from the psychologist solidified it as reality.
Rewind to ‘the me’ who was planning on the perfect family we would have, in the comfy bubble cloud in my mind that I created. A child on the spectrum didn’t fit into that. That was too scary, too difficult…too full of unknowns.
9 years ago, I was given a gift. I was given a son, dark-haired and handsome. A Neuro-a-typical boy. I was given, not only the gift of him, but a key that unlocked glimpses into the magnificent design that God has planned for some of His children.
My boy is clever. When I let go of the “normalness” I wanted for his life, it allowed me to peek behind the curtain into a world that I was invited to because of him.
I’ve burned the midnight oil so many nights, reading literature about Asperger’s. The more I learn about him, the more I love him. As a person who is a rule follower, I’ve had to embrace coloring outside the lines in his life.
We pulled him out of school this year to teach him at home. As I’m obsessing over how to get him to like classical literature, he’s configuring his computer to read to him out loud. The other day, I came down and heard (like music coming down from heaven) the audio version of The Swiss Family Robinson coming out of the tent he erected in our living room.
Having a special needs child is being invited into a VIP private showing of a new world that comes with the cost of the shattered dream of a typical life. The reward transcends that though. You’re given the chance to dissect what real love looks like when you know they can’t give you back what you’ll give to them. You are given the chance to know them better than anyone else.
I’ve seen mothers be able to decipher the needs and desires of their children, who don’t have verbal communication. We celebrate the milestones they meet with greater anticipation, appreciation and joy.
Nobody would ask for a difficult parenthood. Special needs parenting is more scary, more frustrating, and more tiring. It dashes our perceived hopes and dreams.
What I have so humbly come to know is that I was given a gift that I wouldn’t have asked for, but a gift that I wouldn’t want to give back.
I don’t know what my 4th born’s future looks like, other than it will have computers in it, but the journey I’m on with him has shaped who I am. I’m honored that he lets me travel with him.
The gift of a special needs child
We hear the term ‘special needs’ all the time. Obviously, there are ‘special’ needs, but I’ve been thinking a lot about just the first word. Special. The definition of special is, “Better, greater, or otherwise different from what is usual”. Thank God for our ‘better, greater, or otherwise different from what is usual’ children. They color our world.
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