As we all know, parenthood can be a daily challenge. When you're pregnant, your hope is that your baby will be healthy and delivery will be without any complications. I never really gave much thought to what it would be like to have a child with special needs or what it meant to be a parent to a child with special needs.
Fast forward to Year 12 with our son who has autism. This is what I've learned (so far):
1.) I've learned to be my child's advocate. I can stand up in a room and fight for what's best for my son. There's no time for stage fright.
2.) I've learned to be an expert in acronyms like IEP and OT. If you don’t know what these mean, you might not be a SNP.
3.) I've learned that doctors don't always know what's best for my son, and it's OK to let them know that.
4.) I've learned the school system may only give me the least amount of info needed when it comes to my son, and that getting the services he deserves and needs doesn't just happen.
5.) I've learned about real friendships through the tough times.
6.) I've learned how to celebrate the simple things.
7.) I've learned that the cycle of victory and defeat can feel unending at times.
8.) I've learned I'm now an educator. I educate others about my child's strengths, potential, and abilities.
9.) I've learned milestones are different with a child with special needs, and they should all be celebrated! I've also learned how to see my "typical" children's achievements and realize what is truly important.
10.) I've learned how many other special needs parents are in my community, and they are the strongest, most courageous, and kindest parents you might ever meet.
11.) I've learned to have perspective. Daily.
12.) I've learned I'm going to keep on learning every day, and much of my learning will be from my child with special needs. He teaches me, and those lucky enough to be around him, daily.
Carissa Garabedian is the founder of KNOWDifferent.net and publisher of Macaroni Kid Richmond. She is a mom to three great kids, including her youngest who is on the spectrum and teaches her so much about life. She's married to her best friend and loves to cook, loves to run, and loves to make people smile!