I don't really come right out and tell people that my daughter, B, is special needs. As a matter of fact we are still trying to get an exact diagnosis. But for now she is diagnosed with developmental delays.
I am not ashamed of her but once people find out she is different they treat her that way. This isn't always a bad thing but it's almost amusing how when someone hears she is special needs they talk louder and more slowly to her. Sometimes I just look at them and say "I didn't say she was deaf."
B looks like a normal preteen and often acts normal. But when you are around her for a while or even at just the right moment you can tell she is not your average 11 year old. She behaves more like a 6-7 year old which makes dealing with her and her 9 year old brother hard. You just can't treat them the same because that's not fair to her but if you treat them different it's not fair to him. It's very hard on me at times. When B does something wrong it is often hard to determine if what she is did was a result of her condition or her just being a normal kid.
I have a hard time dealing with her. It's a lot to deal with and there ad daily challenges that pop up that most parents never have to think of. James and I are honestly learning how to cope with her day by day. We often make mistakes. I will forget she can only follow 1-2 steps worth of directions and when she doesn't do what she is asked I start to lecture and when she starts stuttering and looking off into space I get so frustrated. Sometimes it's like I totally forget who I am dealing with and start yelling and when I realize what I am doing and who I am yelling at I have to stop and give my self a "Time Out". I usually come back and apologize for yelling and explain why I am frustrated. It doesn't magically make her understand that I wanted her to empty the plate into the trash then rinse it off and put it in the sink instead of dumping food in the sink, rinsing off the plate and putting it in the trash. It does let her know I make mistakes and i am trying too. I just have to keep my expectations and reactions in line with her abilities. That's not to say I have low standards of her. It means that I keep high standards along with a positive attitude even if they aren't met.
She still has to deal with the same things other kids deal with and it's not easy but we do. Like yesterday she got braces. She was such a champ and was so excited to show them off. Or when we had to deal with puberty. People take things like that with "normal" kids for granted. It's not easy for a kid like B but with her positive attitude she gets through it.
But in spite of her differences she usually has a very pleasant outlook on everything. She loves to sing and dance. It's amazing to me because she can't carry a tune and has no rhythm at all. Often she starts "shakin' it" even when there is no music. She literally dances to the beat of a different drum. It's the one playing in her head. Sometimes when I watch her dance I can't help but laugh. She let's the moment consume her and doesn't care what others think. She just moves. Normal people don't do that. Normal people are boring.
She also thinks of others constantly. She draws pictures full of whimsical colors with little love notes for all her friends and mine. Normal people don't think of sending each other drawings or notes just because they care.
She picks flowers that are actually weeds for her family and in her eyes those weeds are beautiful. Normal people won't look twice at a weed and can't see the beauty in things the way she can.
She likes people without reason. Everyone is her friend, even people who aren't and she forgives everything. Normal people aren't as easy to get along with.
So when I see her struggle or I find myself struggling I thank God for giving her to me. She isn't normal. She is special needs. She is special. She is my special girl.
B before and after getting her braces.