Raising a child with a disability is overwhelming. My daughter was three and a half when I finally received her Autism diagnosis, but she’d been in early intervention therapies since she was 8 months old. PT, OT, ST, ABA, AVB, etc.; we worked our way through the therapy alphabet.
With the summer approaching, many parents have spent the last few months planning activities for their children. Some families choose to send their children to camp or specialized programs. Finding appropriate activities can be especially difficult for parents of children recently diagnosed with any special need. Parents should not feel as though they are going through the process alone, however, because there are probably mothers and fathers in the community who are eager to help.
As awareness grows regarding a number of disabilities, such as autism and sensory processing disorder, people are talking. Often, they’re talking to the parents who are raising children who struggle with these issues, and they’re offering comments such as, "I don’t know how you do it."
Although well-intentioned, those comments aren’t always well-received.
It was a tough week on the news ticker for parents. First came the heinous attack on an Israeli tour bus in Bulgaria, followed only days later by the incomprehensible tragedy in Colorado. Questions of how to talk to our children about these headlines have weighed heavily ever since.
I just got back from Israel. I went as a kind of pre-state pilgrim, but the circumstances and the trappings of the trip were hardly old-fashioned, or pious. My ever-generous in-laws wanted to show off their grandchildren at a wedding thrown by olim relatives, so the grandchildren’s parents got to come along.
It began as the typical nightmare of so many parents, but concluded with an unsettling twist: Danny, age 3, had made his way through the door, down to the building’s lobby and out onto the lively sidewalks of Manhattan. By the time Hannah Brown found her son, in a shop near her Upper West Side building, she was beside herself. But Danny? He registered no concern.
My long-legged 9-year-old clambers onto my lap, her eye-rolling cynicism suppressed for the moment. Together we wait, staring at the computer screen’s still image of an Israeli flag, listening as the sentimental strains of a symphony rise up. But when a disembodied voice explodes in song, Talia joins in, belting out the Hebrew words with a gusto she usually reserves for Broadway show tunes, her torso swaying from the effort. My daughter is caught up in the love and hope and dreams of “Hatikvah.”
My ten-year old daughter Sophie paid homage to my recent birthday with the best-worst birthday toast I could imagine: “Happy Birthday to the world’s greatest mom – and to the world’s best grandma one day!”