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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Special Needs Can Mean Special Blessings




Parents of special needs children have my highest admiration and respect. The constant care and attention needed by the child plus the lack of personal down time is not something most of us are able to deal with. If it were possible, I would love to give each parent time for a leisurely bubble bath, or a nap, or the opportunity to simply do their errands free of complications and distractions. These are some of the little things that so many of us take for granted as a regular part of our lives, but are true luxuries for those with a special child.
Difficult children teach us some difficult lessons. In our 'normal' world, we all know how to love our family members and friends to some degree or other. We can love our neighbors as long as they don't cross us. But learning to love with a deep, unconditional love against all odds and in difficult circumstances is not granted to everyone. Parents of special needs children are privileged to learn this and they are truly blessed when this love comes to live in their hearts.
Special needs children can also bring special sunshine and joy, not only to their families, but to the community around them. Let me tell about how this happened to us.
We had recently moved to a new state. Lucky persons that we were, my husband and I found ourselves in the Department of Motor Vehicles, waiting and waiting and waiting some more for our number to be called so we could get our new driver licenses, automobile registrations transferred, tags updated and all those critical items made legal.
I looked up at the counter and noticed an older woman who had a Down's syndrome young man with her. He was standing somewhat behind her as she attended to her responsibilities at the window. My heart immediately went out to her with - yes, pity and compassion but also with amazement at all the years that she must have persevered through caring for her special needs son.
You can only imagine my amazement when the young man turned to some of the people behind him and with a dazzling smile started introducing himself to them and shaking their hands. He was genuinely happy to meet each one of them and kept making joyful remarks about what a beautiful day it was and wishing the best for everyone. One by one, he went down the line greeting people and one by one, smiles broke out on faces, there was some happy laughter and we all looked at each other, thoroughly enjoying the moment. The atmosphere lightened and we were all in a much better mood.
One woman who was there summed it all up with her statement, "That young man has just touched more lives than all of us in this room." She was so correct. If I had started introducing myself to those in the room, it would not have had the impact that we had just experienced. We give special people the right to be totally, gloriously happy and we join in with their exuberance. That young man, who must have been raised by an amazing woman, brought sunshine, laughter and happiness to those around him.
Yes, special needs children are demanding and time consuming and often difficult. However, in the midst of the day to day drudgery, if one is looking, they can also bring much love, joy and laughter as well.
Narda Tate is an effective communicator and published author. With two special needs grandchildren, she understands to difficulties and challenges involved with raising them. She lives in Cape Coral, FL with her husband Steve. They have been married for 43 years and have 3 children and 13 grandchildren. She can be reached at nardatate@gmail.com.

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