To the People Who Think My Child Is a ‘Troublemaker'

My daughter had a stroke before she was born. Because of that, she is behind in reaching some of her milestones. She is about two years behind where she should be with her speech, but she doesn’t let her speech impairment get in her way. She’s very clever at finding ways to tell you what she wants, and one day she’s going to make a heck of a charades player. She works hard to overcome her challenges in therapy.

girl wearing hat

She has a hard time understanding the body language of those around her, but with therapy she has come a long way. Two years ago, she wouldn’t leave my side. Today, she puts herself out there in social situations I know she’s not the most comfortable in. She has some sensory issues that make her seek out the input her body craves. Some people just see her running and jumping, and she might come off as hyper.

Yes, she often talks a little on the loud side, and to some it may appear like she’s yelling. But she’s just bold and vibrant. She finds it hard to regulate her voice; it’s part of her speech disorder. She’s also aware people do not understand her when she speaks, so it sends her into overdrive to get her point across before they lose interest in what she has to say. She’s been ignored by people unwilling to try and listen. I thank God it hasn’t damaged her self-esteem; it makes me sad to think one day it might.

My daughter is strong-willed. If you say jump, she will sit. You say black, she says white. As a parent, this can be frustrating. But at the end of the day, I can’t say I blame her. Her body often works against her. She has little control over half the things she does in life. So when it comes to being in control of the little things, she needs it.

She’s brave. Her life has been filled with therapy and fighting to accomplish things. I honestly don’t believe she would have progressed as much as she has in therapy with a different personality.

It makes me angry as her biggest fan when people make life harder for her. At such a young age, she’s been up against so much, and some people can’t take the time to see past some of her behaviors. People are missing out on this kid, I’m telling you. She’s got more heart than most adults I know. She’s more patient and forgiving than many people around her. She’s not a “troublemaker,” as some call her. She’s fighting for her place in this world. She’s not a “loudmouth,” as people have said; she just wants you to know she’s trying to tell you something. She’s not being hyper as it may appear; she’s fighting through the uncomfortable feelings her body gives her. If she can’t squirm and fidget, she can’t concentrate on what she’s trying to say.

She’s a little girl who sees a world of beauty even though the world judges her. She looks past glares without backing down. She repeats herself over and over again when someone doesn’t understand her. She never gives up, even when someone gives up listening. She doesn’t change her opinion to agree with anyone else’s — because she’s a leader, not because she’s stubborn.

I’m not as beautiful inside as she is. I’m not as understanding. It makes me angry that others’ misconceptions of her might change one of the best things this world has to offer: her! She forgives people, loves them anyway. She loves them for who they are and not their behaviors. She doesn’t judge them for their choice of words. She doesn’t blame them for their remarks. At almost 5 years old, she has figured out the meaning of true acceptance. I wish every day to be more like her, to learn to love unconditionally.

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