Do you have a special needs child? Was he or she recently diagnosed? I'm sure you're facing a vast, confusing path, and you may not know what to do. Our family has traveled the road before you! And so have many others. This is an open letter I wrote to a mom struggling with these same issues. I hope that I can encourage you with these words.
I've had many wishes and dreams during my childhood, but I knew that I wanted to someday be a mom. And a teacher. I loved seeing younger kids "get it." Both of these dreams came true in May of 1989, when Fernando and I welcomed little Joey into the world. A few years later, Jacob arrived, then Danny, and finally, Thomas.
Although our journey has been a long one, we know that every journey is long, and that some are simply different.
Since our special needs son is our oldest, we were doubly confused! We had no child growing up ahead of him to show us what "typical" looked like. But we knew that, after his one year in a public school early childhood program, bringing him home was the best--the only--option. We knew that no one else could give him what was most important: our love, our faith in Jesus, our heritage. Academics and life skills, though important, were secondary issues that would, with time, eventually be learned to whatever degree.
We began simply by loving our son. As much as he let us, we hugged him, sang to him, tickled him, told him we loved him, and that Jesus loved him. He was God's precious gift to us. We read to him, went for walks together, played at the park, dug in the dirt, and played together with his baby brothers.
As our son grew, we taught his younger brothers how best to love him. We involved them in his care and therapy, when possible. As his brothers matured, they became his best friends and his protectors. We also involved others--extended family, church members, and families in our homeschool support group. We taught them how best to help. And we asked for help when we needed it.
The academics came. Our son learned math, reading and writing, history and science. He graduated from our homeschool. But his crowning glory is that he serves the Lord today.
None of this came easily. We cried, prayed, even complained throughout the struggles. But, the Lord did not forsake us; He guided and carried us. He guides and carries us still. He will do the same for you.
With the love of Christ,
If you're looking for resources, books, encouragement, etc., please visit my Special and Struggling Learners blog!