World Changer

Eight years ago today my world changed more than I even knew at the time with the birth of our daughter. I could never have known, then, exactly how much this little bundle of flesh would change my world. Everyone said she would turn our world upside-down, but even they didn’t know she would turn us inside out, too. I thought I knew so much about how the world worked. Something about earning a Ph.D. makes you think you can take on anything and master it. Parenting, however, has little to do with book smarts. Parenting special needs style takes it all to yet another level.

Four years later I was feeling more than a little “outsmarted.” Our twins had arrived six weeks early after seven weeks of bed rest. The child was exhibiting unruly behavior in every setting which made bringing two tiny infants home after three weeks in the NICU particularly unnerving. Even knowing more about my daughter’s language delay, we were still in a fog of misunderstanding. We assumed that all of the upheaval was because of my unexpected lengthy hospital stay both before and after the twins’ birth. Indeed, the child was so angry at me for “disappearing” that she didn’t even look at me the first day that I came home. It took over a year to regain her trust. Still there was more for us to learn, and six months later the learning curve accelerated when we finally asked for a formal diagnosis.

All of those letters, primary diagnosis, possible co-morbid conditions, what does it all mean? This form to fill out, those contacts to call, these questions to ask, those books to read. This meeting to have, those services to request. It was back to school special parenting style.

I still feel like I’m learning every day. Yesterday I filled out a survey for a local autism advocacy group and realized that I know NOTHING about what happens after high school. Granted we’re only in second grade, but it seems like yesterday we were in Kindergarten, so I imagine the rest of it will go pretty fast, too. Even more, though, the child teaches me every day – about her needs, about how she sees the world, about how much we have in common, how to deeply feel each experience, and how to celebrate every achievement.

If the last eight years is any indication, we have a lot to look forward to – more amazing discoveries around every corner, and more great adventures yet to come.

Happy Birthday to my world changer.

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