By Kim Faber
Some people have the chance to raise a boy and a girl – which gives them two very different parental experiences. I have been blessed with two awesome sons and luckily, I have been able to have two diverse experiences as well. With one son, we’ve experienced mainstream society and schooling, and the other has needed accommodations through his life based on special challenges he has faced.
I thought I would share some of the differences that I have seen through this unique experience of raising a typically developing child vs. one with special needs. I would never say that one way is easier or harder than the other. I believe both experiences have their equivalent stresses, good times and hard times too…….they are just different.
So, here is my list of comparisons:
Justin – Has had great teachers in school.
Liam – Has had a great team of teachers in school.
Justin – I would judge the other kids who were behaving poorly.
Liam – I would think to myself… “Hmm, I wonder which disability that child has?”
Justin – I would complain about driving him to extracurricular activities, friends houses, social outings.
Liam – I put up with the regular trips to tutors, doctors and therapists.
Justin – I pray he finds a good career someday.
Liam- I hope someone gives him an opportunity to work some day.
Justin – I enjoyed reading the book, “What to Expect when you are Expecting” to ensure he was meeting milestones as he grew.
Liam – I had to toss that book away! I should receive an honorary degree in child development for all the resources I have read.
Justin- I can depend on common over-the-counter medicines to meet his medical needs.
Liam – They should also give me an honorary medical degree!
Justin – Went to all the best playgroups.
Liam – Went to all the best therapy groups.
Justin – I would meet my girlfriends for coffee in the middle of the day while he played with the latest toys.
Liam – I would get together with moms at support and therapy groups (if we were lucky, there was free coffee available), while he played with toys that his early interventionist had recommended.
Justin – All of his medical forms for the past 18 years fit in one file.
Liam – I can’t even imagine how many trees have been harmed.
Justin – Excited for an “empty nest.”
Liam – Worry about who will take care of him and where he will live.
Justin – On first name basis with other moms in the neighbourhood.
Liam – On first name basis with paediatricians, neurologist, and epileptologist.
Justin – Look for the most stylish clothing.
Liam – Look for clothes that will meet his sensory and fine motor needs.
Justin – Looking forward to him going off to college or university.
Liam – Do not have a clue what happens to him after age 21 when he can no longer attend school.
Justin – Pull up to the school parking lot with a quick goodbye as he walks off with his friends.
Liam – Gets awesome door-to-door bussing and I hope he is able to find his friends when he gets dropped off.
I love that my boys are different and are both growing up to be their own people in different ways. And I truly feel blessed to have both of these unique experiences. I always believe in the quote that reads “It takes a village to raise a child.” So here is my last comparison for you all.
Justin – Thank you to the village people for their offers and support while trying to prove to them I am able to raise him on my own. (Even if at times I needed help.)
Liam – Now I can admit that at times I can’t do this on my own. I am so grateful for the amazing people in the village that are always there for us, and I am happy to accept their offers to help.