themighty logo

When You Get a Special Needs Diagnosis, You Have a Choice To Make

29558_10151246070858471_1590565023_n This morning my daughter Julia did something amazing. She linked two signs together to form a request.

Six years, three months, 30 days of life leading up to two signs:

More + glasses = I’d like my glasses, please, Mom!

My cup overflows, my heart is bursting with pride. Hugs and tears were shared, texts were sent, a Facebook status was updated and a blog was written. This was big. Two little signs rocked our world.

You get a diagnosis of “special needs,” and you have two choices — to measure everything by what she won’t do or to celebrate every single little tiny and yet humongous thing she does do. By the grace of God we were funneled into the latter option right from the beginning and as a result have basically been celebrating every single day since.

I’ve often felt really grateful that Julia’s diagnosis is “unique,” meaning no other cases like hers. It has allowed us to write our own story, follow her lead and drop every single expectation for what she will or will not be able to do. (I wish this for all of my parent friends; it’s so freeing.)

Will she walk? Well, we aren’t sure, guess we will see! But have you seen how fast she scoots?

Will she talk? I don’t know, but she sure does find ways to communicate!

Will she be okay? Oh, friend, she is already there.

Our parenting approach may have been different had there been 900 articles to read about what kids like her can or can’t do — we may have felt the pressure or responsibility to “help” her achieve a certain standard. We may have been sucked into agreeing to set goals for her to walk by 2 and talk by 3 and feed herself by 4 — but these would have been artificially set for our comfort. In reality we don’t know if God has made her to do any of these things or not — so we refuse to make unfair goals in the first place.

Instead we feel we’ve been given a gift as parents, the most amazing gift — to sit back and cheer our daughter on, all the while saying, “Who knows what she will be able to achieve, but let’s watch and see!”

Had you told me roughly six years, three months, and 30 days ago that I would have a 6-year-old who doesn’t walk, doesn’t talk and only knows three signs, I might have been devastated. I would have fixated on these BIG things she won’t be able do, and I wouldn’t have been able to imagine the little things that would make our hearts soar or dream of celebrations that would ensue over something like: “More glasses.”

You can miss the little things if your sights are set above them — but every ounce of my joy in my life comes from these subtle, tiny, easy-to-miss-if-you-aren’t-patient, yet amazingly huge and life-changing little things.

This post originally appeared on I’m Julia’s Mom.