I had the honor of raising three (beautiful) children. Now I am Nana to three (equally beautiful) grandchildren. Without a doubt, parenting is the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. That doesn’t mean it’s been easy, by any means. It’s also been the most challenging job I’ve ever had! Raising a human being deserves all the elbow grease (and Tylenol) needed to do the job right. I wish I had known all the answers to bringing up my kiddos. I’m the first to admit that there were always questions in my mind about doing the right/best thing for each child. Problem is, each child’s issue usually required a different solution! For example, potty-training was a new experience with each of my kids. One was quick to catch on. One didn’t mind one bit being in a wet diaper. And one was happy to sit on the potty chair for hours enjoying those sweet treats of bribery!
Successful parenting recognizes that there are these differences in our offspring. It also means that we welcome advice from other experienced sources when needed! Sometimes we need a little (or a LOT) of help to get through the current childhood dilemma. Add disability into the mix, and that need intensifies! We can try to be Supermom or Superdad all the time, but it’s okay to hang up the cape for a while and ask for help when you need it.
As a toddler, our son Matthew became deathly ill with bacterial meningitis. He survived, but the meningitis left Matthew profoundly deaf. I knew I was now in uncharted territory, dealing with issues I had no clue about. The Internet wasn't around to rely on then (where everything is true, right??), and we had so many questions!
Not only did we have questions, but also many decisions to make! Our first basic task was to determine the best way to communicate with Matthew. We had to find a language that was natural for him; but would be brand new to us. Think that sounds easy? Do you have any idea how many language systems there are to choose from? Cued Speech, Signed Exact English, Oral, American Sign Language, Pidgin Signed English, to name a few. What about hearing aids – would one be helpful for him? Where should he go to school? How about the pros and cons of cochlear implants? And what is this Deaf Culture we were being introduced to? We were entering a whole new universe filled with new questions!
Are you a parent of a child with a disability? Do you know where to turn for honest, supportive insights to your questions? Yes, the Internet is the first place to look for statistics, facts and figures. But where do you find a mentor? An experienced parent who has already waded through these waters (and lived to tell about it)? A neutral, but educated perspective? Fear not - excellent supports are available to help you continue to be your child’s superhero! Here are a few of my favorites: