I couldn’t stop staring at two words on my computer screen: Intellectual Disability. After 5 years of doctor appointments, tests and more tests, we had several conditions finally diagnosed for our daughter.
Our search included two neurologists, two geneticists, pediatricians and development delay specialists that spanned two states. It’d been a long journey to diagnosis and after talking with other special needs parents, I learned that’s kind of the norm. It can take several years to diagnose a child who has disabilities. It’s like a puzzle and every appointment or phone call provides a piece of hope you’ll find an answer or in our case answers.
I was trying to comprehend her other conditions that include chromosomal disorder, tremor, sensory processing issues, ADHD and developmental delays. It was those two words that stung a bit. I was stuck on them.
I started researching and learning as much as I could and still have so much to learn. I imagine I’m no different than other moms and dads who feel alone, scared and unsure of what the future holds after learning all of the conditions we face. We finally have new direction though for treatment and support.
The old school definition of intellectual disability and views are changing through compassion and understanding. I’m grateful for that and the IDEA. We’ve met amazing special kids, parents and teachers because of our daughter. People like us who want to give their children the best despite the challenges they face.
Instead of focusing on those two words with despair, they’ve taught me a different way to look at our future. They just simply mean:
- My husband and I are her advocates, protectors and supporters now more than ever.
- She learns at her own pace and we’re adapting to her learning style.
- She’s teaching me compassion and how she views the world in her own way.
- Some days are better than others and the bad ones give way to good ones.
- It doesn’t matter what other people think.
- Sometimes friends and family just don’t get it. That’s OK.
- People say inconsiderate things and it’s better to just move on.
- We have to explore every therapy and support option possible for her.
- The stereotypes of yesterday don’t apply to today.
- There’s so many resources out there. I’m researching constantly and connecting with parents like us.
- Take time for myself. Exercise, decompress and sometimes enjoy an adult beverage.
I learned when my sister was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and then passed away from it that life doesn’t always go as planned. It’s unpredictable. It can change in an instant. That can be scary. My sister also taught me how a good attitude can help you rise from hard times. A bad one will just hold you back. It’s a choice how to move forward and the attitude we keep.
I don’t know what our future holds. I know we’ll be with her every step of the way. We move forward with our unconditional love, support and as her strongest advocates because that’s what parents do.