When you decide to be a parent, you imagine that perfect little baby swaddled in a cute blanket that was knit by your Mom. You imagine the moments like bringing them home and changing their diapers and breast feeding them and having them cuddle on your chest. You imagine them learning how to walk and rambling through the house like drunken sailors while you make sure that their falls will be pain free. You imagine teaching them how to read or write their names or ride a bike or drive a car or go to college. You never imagine seeing your child in an incubator or in an MRI machine or being tested. But, for some of us, this is reality.
Being the parent of a special needs child is a weird concept. Sure, all kids have special needs because they are all unique. However, being parents of special needs kids we know that some of the things we worry about do not fall anywhere close to ‘normal’ kids. If people complained that kids do not come with parenting manuals you can imagine how it feels to be told your child can’t do something that all kids do.
Parenting a special needs child is a marathon, not a sprint. There are days that you imagine are normal and then there are days when you think you cannot take another blow or stressor. There are days when your child is just a joy and others where your child tests every ounce of patience you have ever had. There are days where you feel supported in this journey with your child but most days you are not only an advocate but a champion with a flaming sword and you would abandon all your principles and contemplate killing people who stand in the way of your child’s progress or care.
Being the parent of a special needs child is like any other parent; we have good days and bad. Our good days are days where we do not need to deal with any drama or crises and bad days…well, just the opposite. We are not better or stronger, we were just handed a different set of issues to deal with. Every parent has concerns for their kids and the stress they place on us are just as debilitating and real. Some parents worry that little Billy will pass a test. We worry that little Sonya will have a positive test. Some parents worry that little Andrea will be successful in school. We worry little Bartholomew will actually be able to go to a regular school.
Our worries are different but the sentiment is the same; we love our kids and will do anything for them. Parenting should be a job that is honored with medals and ranks. In this day of testing and medicating our kids and the rise in Spectrum Disorder diagnoses, we all need to be aware that we could very well be parenting a special needs kid. Whether your child has a medically depilating condition or a physical handicap or multiply diagnosed or a learning disability or is gifted, the role of parent is critical. We must choose a course of treatment/action that will maximize their potential and minimize their stressors. We think that is worth a rank of Colonel.