Yes, it is!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

On Being A Special Parent

Being the mom of 2 children, each with their own set of special needs, I often hear that God only gives those children to parents who are special.  I have to admit that I often cringe when I hear this because I am no more special than the parent with a "typical" child.  In fact, I often feel very ill-suited for the job of dealing with all my children's special needs.  I do NOT feel special.  I often feel drained, isolated, and just plain out-of-place around parents with "normal" children.  One of my friends shared the following article that hit the nail on the head for me. I almost feel as if the author took the words right out of mouth.  Please take the time to read and the next time you meet a parent with children who have special needs, remember what you learned from this article.  Click on the link HERE.

Having 2 children with their own set of special needs has had positive affects on me.  It has brought me out of my comfort zone.  I had to in order to be an advocate for my children to get them the care that they truly deserve.  It has also helped me to reach out to other parents who are also struggling with their childrens' needs.   I have become more passionate toward those who deal with disabilities.  I had a heart for those people before I had my own children but I now have a greater appreciation for what they deal with. 
When other people "pat me on my back" and tell me that I'm special because I have children with special needs, I know they mean well.  However, what they don't realize is that having children with special needs is draining not only on a family's finances, but it is a strain on family relationships, too.  Unfortunately, even though Jackie's disability is permanent,  she does not qualify for any type of assistance because our income is just a little too high to qualify.  I do hope that I can get some sore of assistance to help pay for Jackie's hearing aids.  In case you don't know, hearing aids cost thousands of dollars and our insurance does not have hearing aid coverage.  So, it will be a huge out of pocket expense for us if we don't get financial assistance for them.  With all of that being said, how does that make us more special than the "normal" parents who are able to preserve their savings for non-medical expenses?  What makes us more special than the "normal" parents who have more time and money to put their own children in so many various after-school activities?  

I am so thankful for my membership at the gym because it gives me the time to myself that I need after driving my children to their various therapy appointments (and whatever other specialty appointment) throughout the week.  I don't get out with friends often so the gym is my social outlet for the time being.  

Despite the difficulties involved with raising my children during their young years, I would not trade them for anything. I love them with my whole being.  I am thankful for their disabilities.  My children are perfect to me.  But reality is that it has been very difficult for so many reasons.  How does that make me more special than you?  

The next time you meet a parent with a child who has special needs, don't tell them how special they are.  All we need is just a listening ear or an encouraging word.  Or just a smile will do.  Don't be afraid to ask questions.  When others comment on my daughter's limp or the way she holds her arm, I have no problem explaining about my daughter's disability and how proud I am of her for accomplishing so many things.  In the end, you will be the one who is encouraged and inspired.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Happy 5th Birthday to Ben!

My sweet boy is now 5 years old.  Unbelievable!  It has been a crazy, wild journey with Ben these past 5 years.  My sweet little boy went from being the perfect, content baby to being a very adventurous, fun loving, VERY active boy.  He is cute, smart, and affectionate.   He gives the best hugs. 

I haven't updated about Ben's disorder in a long time so I will take this opportunity to do so briefly.  As difficult as these past few years have been, I wouldn't trade my little boy for anything.  He has come a long way with his speech during this past year.  After being able to say a few words before he turned a year old, by his first birthday, Ben quit saying words.  By age 18 months, he was seeing a speech therapist for the speech problem and he was also seeing an occupational therapist for the sensory processing issues.  It was a trying time for sure.  Just a year ago, he was an extremely frustrated little boy because as intelligent as he is, he struggled so much with his expressive verbal skills.  He had been diagnosed with severe Apraxia of Speech.  Ben showed his frustration by biting, hitting, and yelling.  Since age 3, Ben has been going to a preschool geared toward children with speech difficulties.  Thankfully, he is very well-behaved at school despite his high activity level at home.  Between the speech he receives at school and the private speech therapy, Ben has made tremendous improvement and is now talking in complete sentences.  He has blossomed and is more outgoing than before.  Thankfully, he is also less frustrated and no longer bites out of frustration.  We're still working on some other behavioral issues but he is much improved from just 6 months ago.  Ben is still unintelligible at times but with continued speech therapy, I have full confidence that he will completely conquer this disorder in the next couple of years.  

Despite the difficulties of the past few years, Ben has brought much joy and entertainment into our home.  He loves to ride his bike, he loves gymnastics, and best of all, he loves school.  He also likes to attend AWANAs.  Ben gets to start full-day Kindergarten next August (woohoo!) and he is already so excited about it.  He is looking forward to homework and being able to carry his own lunchbox to school.  I'm sure that will get old very quickly, though.  He is also looking forward to riding the big bus with his sister.  

It's so hard for me to believe that my baby is already 5 years old.  I'll never forget that day when Tim and I found ourselves in shock at the discovery that we were expecting another baby.  As unexpected as it was, we are very blessed to have Ben as our son.  He is the best son on earth.

Happy Birthday Ben!  We love you so much!