To the parents of children with disabilities, I want you to know one thing — you are heroes. I know that some days you may feel far from that, but you are. There are not many who walk in your shoes. There is not a book that tells what you should and should not do. You have to go with your instincts and trust that you are doing the best for your child. Others will give you advice, ask questions, look and stare, but they aren’t the ones who live with your child and know them in the way you do.
With October being National Down Syndrome month, I have read posts on Facebook from parents of children with Down syndrome. While some of these posts are filled with joy, others are filled with feelings of pain, regret, guilt and inadequacy. As a life skills support teacher, I work with students who have disabilities and their families on a daily basis. I see the struggles that parents and families endure, yet the love they have for their child is what shines through.
To those parents, I want you to know that I have great respect for you. I am with your child Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. I go home at night and know that on Saturday and Sunday I don’t have to worry about sensory overload or handling a meltdown. You are the ones with your child at night doing homework, putting them to bed and dealing with anything else from the day. You don’t get weekends off. During the weekends, you might be dealing with those meltdowns, looks from people who don’t understand and trying to live your everyday life. I know that with every IEP meeting we have, you are reminded of the differences and difficulties your child has. You put on a good face, but it can’t be easy. I see the struggles you go through, and yet you continually overcome them.
In my eyes, you are a hero. You continually fight for your child and what you believe is best for him or her. You are up at night worrying about if you are doing the best thing or what other people may think. You ignore the stares of others when you are in public and your child is not behaving the way others think he or she should. Please know that I respect you and the job you do. Continue doing what you are doing. Celebrate the victories. Look back at pictures and see how far your child has come. You and your child are fighters. You have been through a lot together and have overcome so many obstacles. Through the good and bad, you continue to love your child, support them and fight for what is best for them. This is what makes you a hero.