Who are you and your kids?
I a mom, a wife, a marketing exec, an advocate for my special needs child, Jared, who is a quirky, brilliant, adorable 6 year old.
What is the nature of their special needs?
Jared has an Asperger’s diagnosis. Yes, he is on the spectrum, but many people would not even know it… Luckily, the one thing we do not worry about is academics.
What is your biggest challenge in raising a child with special needs?
Yes, I went through a “why me” phase (and still relapse sometimes), but as I see progress, I have learned to celebrate small milestones that other parents may take for granted (Jared had a good interaction with a kid on the playground – let’s throw a party!). The challenge is part releasing your ego and part learning to live with something you never envisioned as part of your life.
What is your greatest joy in raising your child?
Someone told me once that parenting a special needs child is like parenting triplets – not only is it triple the work, but there is triple the joy. There is joy in the gifts/quirkiness that come with Jared’s diagnosis like seeing him teach himself how to read when he was three or when he told his teachers he would prefer math worksheets as a reward for good behavior instead of toys. He doesn’t (yet) see himself as any different and his smile and laugh can turn the roughest day right around.
If you could give one piece of advice to another parent whose child has just been diagnosed, what would it be?
The beginning is rough, each new stage can be rough, but once you do the research, get the help and put a plan in place light begins to shine from the end of a dark tunnel. You may never make it to the end of the tunnel, but you will see sunshine again!
We thank Amanda for sharing her story with us. What about you – what are your personal greatest joys of parenthood?
We’d love to hear your family’s story too! If you’re interested in contributing to our Stories blog, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
This interview has been edited for length.