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41 Little Things Special Needs Parents Will Never Take for Granted

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For parents of children with special needs, small moments mean everything. When you have a potentially complicated road ahead of you and your loved one, you learn to appreciate what’s right in front of you.

We decided to ask our readers what things they’ll never take for granted, and here’s what they had to say:

1. “Whenever my son and his dad snuggle on the couch, my heart is touched by the tenderness of this precious 28-year-old who loves his dad and this father who loves his son.” — Susan Crowe Brown


2.When our son says ‘Oh, Daddy, you’re back!‘ or ‘great job, Mommy!’” — Valorie Ebie

3. “My 10-year-old is cognitively 12 months old and no longer speaks. He’s a messy eater. I encourage him to continue to feed himself, so when he grabs my hand or puts his arm around my neck even just to touch my skin, I don’t pull away, no matter how dirty his hands are and no matter how clean my clothes are. I can change; he can’t. Sloppy, wet, drooled kisses are even better.” — Donna Kay Langan

4. “I invented a game called ‘Burrito Baby’ when Emma was 4. It’s actually a deep pressure activity to calm her before bedtime, but it evolved into something a little more rambunctious over time. I wrap her tight in blankets, layering ‘tortillas,’ ‘sour cream,’ ‘chicken,’ etc. on top of her. I gently put stuffed animals and even my own upper body on her and kiss the ‘salsa’ off her face. Her little brother joins in too. We laugh a lot.” — April Charisse


5. “When I lie down with Josefine, 5, at bed time and she cuddles me and asks me to help her have sweet dreams by telling her a pony story.” — Kati Kainulainen

6.My teen son with autism talking my ear off. He didn’t speak his first sentence until he was 5.” — Jennifer Hines Hansel

7.When our 13- year-old nonverbal son pulls either my husband or me into his room to hang out with him. Although the visit usually lasts just a fleeting five minutes, my husband and I still fall for it, and the gesture gives us warm fuzzies every single time.” — Dolly Thomas


8.Eating. After tube-feeding him for two years, I still love every bite he takes.” — Pride Coaching

9. “We FaceTime when she’s at her dad’s, and we show each other one eyeball. We laugh so hard.” — Julie Roehr Franks

10.Her hugs and her smile.” — Jennifer Lesley Holdsworth


11.My son will sit next to me and take my hand, making sure all of our fingers are interlacedHe’s nonverbal and doesn’t do this with anyone else, so undoubtedly this is his way of saying ‘I love you, Mom.’” — Elizabeth Pasten

12. “When my 4-year-old conquers her fears and does something that the ‘average’ kid would find non-challenging, yet she screams ‘I am so brave!’ She inspires me.” — Monica Birge Ferrell


13.They still want me to tuck them in every night, even in their early 20’s.” — Kristie Branch Hairston

14.My son always says ‘goodnight’ quite a few times. He always screams it from his room a few times too. When he sneezes he screams from wherever he is in the house, ‘I sneezed!’ so you can say ‘God bless you.’ If you don’t, he keeps yelling louder and louder.” — Sue McConnell

15. “When my daughter, who is 17 months old, gives me big dribbly kisses that I wouldn’t change for the world.” — Jacqui Hicklin


16. “I waited so long for those words, ‘I love you.’ I will never take them for granted from any of my kids but especially from one. He worked so hard to say them.” — Miche Flynn

17.He makes reservations for Saturday snuggles on Monday.” — Amy Beth Bretz-Ballard

18. “My nonverbal 6-year-old leans in and touches his open lips to my mouth when I ask for a kiss.” — Renee Cser


19.He tells me I am the best, he wants to marry me and I am his beauty.” — Anne Carmody

20. “About a year ago we realized we may lose one of our children. Pictured is our youngest, who has battled a lot. This picture was taken during one of her hospital stays. Today she’s healthy. Although of course I am ever so thankful for that, I know there’s one thing I will hold closest to my heart. When she and her siblings gather in close, and we all wrap together and snuggle. I will never take that for granted. I will always cherish that.” — Ali Hammons


21. “My 4-year-old little boy with autism loves to sing and has the sweetest voice.We didn’t know if he would ever talk, so it’s a true blessing to hear his little songs.” — Ashtin Schissler

22. “My son has autism, ADHD, PTSD (from bullying), bipolar disorder and a whole bunch of other challenges. But considering I was always told that if I could conceive a child, my pregnancy would kill me, I’ll just say it like this — Everything I get to do with my son is a miracle. Even the hard stuff.” — Raven McBayne


23. “My son, who is autistic, asks me every day after work how my day was and about each one of my coworkers. He wants to make sure that everyone is OK. So sweet.” — Kelly Gaulke

24.When my daughter finds something funny and gives that hearty belly laugh. Not a giggle, but a whole body laugh. It makes me smile. Happy times.” — Joy Sexton


25. “Mine tells me he’ll live with me till he’s married, at which point he’ll invite me to live with him. Also he says he’s crazy about me. And snakes.” — Marie N. Cantor

26. “For some reason when my son scrapes out the last few bites in his bowl I think it’s cute. Also when he signs ‘I’m sorry’ to his brother, when he dances and when he’s in a really good mood and throws his arms up and tries to say, ‘Hooray!‘ So many little things I love and will never take for granted.” — Jan Arnold

27.My daughters’ interactions with each other. I can just sit and watch them play or read a book forever.” — Tala Rifai


28. “When he sits on my lap, looks into my eyes, and I feel myself swimming in his love. Then he covers my face with butterfly kisses. And finally, he’ll use his chin to apply deep pressure to my face. Afterwards he scampers off, refueled and raring to go.” – Farzana Tarajia

29.When I stop and realize my older daughter has been talking nonstop for 20 minutes. Sure, my ears are bleeding, but she didn’t talk till she was 3, so it’s music too. And when my younger daughter comes out with a new word. She has a speech delay.” — Angela Haynes


30.Talk. It may not be full sentences, but I know my daughter, who is 2 and has Down syndrome, can verbally express herself — ‘Mama,’ ‘More bubbles,’ ‘Stop it,’ ‘Look! Tree!’ etc. I will never tell her to be quiet, ever.” — Leslie Corral Castellanos

31.When my 3-year-old son rushes to me, saying, ‘Hi’ the whole way in his high-pitched voice. Then he hugs me, puts his forehead against mine and smiling hugely, says, ‘Yeah.’ That’s how he says, ‘I love you.’ Actions speak louder than words with him.” — Michelle Storey


32.When I walk in to the room he lights up like ‘there she is!’ We usually see that briefly when our kids are small, but 21 years later and I am still the best thing since sliced bread. What a lucky and loved woman I am.” — Susan Eary-Stroebel

33. “Snuggling. He puts his face in front of mine and his hand on my cheek with his beautiful eyes fixated on mine. When I’m sad, anxious or scared I close my eyes and think of those moments. That’s my happy place.” — Caroline Cunningham


34. “When my 22-year-old grandson comes home from his day training, he always says ‘I’m home!’ really loud. He spends enough time at Grandma and Grandpa’s house that he considers it home.” — Mary Dickerson John

35. “Our 6-year-old with autism can randomly say ‘I love you.’ No eye contact but sometimes a hug around your waist. Best part is he says it like, ‘I luh yooouu.’” — Lorri Tucker

36.When he touches my face and gives me a look that says everything he can’t.” — Melissa Schlemmer


37. “Two words melt each one of us in the same way. We never know who the lucky person will be, Mom, Dad, one of her big sisters or baby brother, but if you hear the words you drop what your doing and enjoy this beautiful loving time. ‘Cuddle me?‘”– ChrisTina Cutrara

38.Walking. Since my daughter is out of remission and can’t walk right now, I find myself looking at pictures of her when she was able to stand unassisted.” — Erlas Maelas

39. “I appreciate the special relationship my son has with his dad and grandfather. These three men are my heart and soul.” — Cynthia Adams McGrath


40.When my daughter randomly comes up behind me and puts her arms around me. It doesn’t happen often, and it’s always on her terms, but I cherish every single hug.” — Maureen Gold

41.Eye contact. It took her a few years, but her first long gaze into my eyes I thought my heart was going to burst.” — Kim Smaga Paczesny


 *Some answers have been edited and shortened.

What things will you never take for granted? Let us know in the comments below.

Originally published: March 25, 2015
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