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My Children’s Differences Are Not Something to Apologize For

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When you become a parent there’s no manual; there’s nothing that can truly prepare you to care for another human. When I became a special needs parent, suddenly there were all these “experts” — people I’d never met before, and according to them, they knew my child better than I did.

I still don’t like the label of “special needs mom.” It can come with looks of pity or curiosity. It seems to separate your family even further from others. It’s been four years since I first heard the word autism. I heard it again a few months after, this time in a diagnosis for my oldest, who was almost 9 years old at the time.

I’ve tried to find support, or maybe just people who could relate to my family, but it became apparent to me that I didn’t share the same views as some others.

I don’t see my children as “flawed”!

I don’t see them as “broken”!

I see no reason to look for a “cure”; being autistic isn’t a disease.

I see them as kids in need of support, in need of accommodation. Kids who deserve understanding and recognition for their talents.

I celebrate their strengths, and I celebrate their accomplishments.

Then, I’m smacked in the face with what society — or “experts” — believe of my children.

Today, I sat through an evaluation that lasted well over an hour with all these questions that seemed to aim to put my kids into a smaller box, focusing on what they can’t do or if they react differently than their peers.

I left feeling sad — not for myself, but for my child and how the world appears to view them. It bothers me still as I lie awake at 2 a.m.

“Does the child color in the lines with few mistakes?”

“No! He writes numbers,” I answered. He looked up at me puzzled.

“Has he not been taught?”

“He has, but he’d rather draw numbers, and now he’s discovering math, and these numbers can do more than he first realized. It’s very exciting for him and myself. I encourage his strengths.”

Does it really matter that my child would rather write numbers than color the picture you put in front of him?

I think it’s time we stop trying to put these children into a box that might make others feel more comfortable.

It’s time for acceptance!

No more apologizing for these differences!

No apologizing for coloring outside the lines.

Image via Contributor.

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Originally published: January 4, 2017
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