A Different Journey: This is the season for parents to mark their children’s passages, whether it is a “moving up” ceremony to middle school, or the great leap from college to…somewhere and beyond. It is a fun exchange of parental pride edged with some skepticism and fear. But for the special needs parent, there is a disconnect between the common parlance that requires little translation and that of the uncommon lingo of the special needs journey.
Background Information Required: A kindly inquiry into how our daughter is doing and what she is doing, or where she is or going to, is a more arduous conversation than enunciating the name of a familiar university, trade school or industry. Even folk who are generously taking the time to read these daily postings still have to translate the language of aging out and special needs to really get it. I can see their minds wrestling with the concepts, trying to arrange them in the familiar files that our brains provide. Some have nephews or cousins from the special needs world, or whose occupations provide associations. Frankly, for the rest, it is a lot of work.
People Are Such Good Sports: In our circle of friends and acquaintances, sincere interest in each other’s children is one of the great by-products of living in a small town. We know these kids, from near or afar. That folks actually take the time to learn about our daughter’s journey touches me deeply. I find myself stumbling along trying to find answers for questions still partly unanswered for me as well. Friends have ideas, suggestions about volunteer settings, words of support and praise, and I am grateful.
I guess we all learn together, out of necessity, and from sharing. It has never been easy to explain our daughter’s life to others, even those who know us well. But what makes those efforts worthwhile is the abundance of kindness and good wishes that have always met these explanations.
There is Always A Silver Lining: For me, without a doubt, it is learning first hand about human kindness.
Jill Edelman, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. 2011