When Natally offered to feature me in the newsletter I thought about what I wanted to share with the Willowcrest community. Would my years of working as a speech pathologist and writing about language development be the story I wanted to share. I decided to go another route and tell a little about my journey with my own special needs child who is now 19 years old.
As a parent of a special needs child I had many concerns, my biggest one being would my child ever be able to live independently? Before we could address that concern, I needed to take smaller steps, like finding a school where he could thrive. By 6th grade he had been to over six schools in our search for a community. We never gave up and finally found the right fit. In 11th grade the next concern popped up: would he be able to get into and go away for college? To our great relief, he applied and was accepted to a handful of schools, so we were half-way there! Next, he chose his favorite college, which was out of state.
Would he be able to succeed in college? Would he find meaningful work and build strong relationships? The concerns never stop. We are only one year into the college adventure, so my questions are yet to be answered.
Looking back over 16 plus years of education as a parent of a special needs child and as a speech pathologist working in the field, I can humbly share some personal lessons I've learned along the way.
First, typical development parenting books and classes offered little practical support to special needs kids. Not every therapist and/or therapy was equal (trust me, I watched an endless slew of professionals come through my house). These professionals ranked from true therapist to glorified babysitters, but strength based education and therapy was effective and life changing!