If anyone has read a few of my writings here, they’d know that I am the father of four special little ones, Ardian-13, Gabriel-12, Jocelyn-7, and Cordelia-5. All four of my children are a blessing, they each bring warmth, light, and joy into our home and each one is very much an individual with their own personalities, likes, and dislikes. It’s an amazing journey watching them grow into their own little people, with their own hopes and dreams, every day feels like an adventure with them. With all of the good, each of them faces their own challenges, which require creative thinking and a lot of love to help them combat.
Adrian is on the Autism spectrum, about a medium degree, and also has ADHD, Gabe is also on the spectrum and has ADHD and oppositional defiance disorder. Jocelyn has a learning disability which makes reading difficult, and Cordelia is hearing impaired and possibly on the spectrum. One thing I tell them almost daily is that our challenges don’t define us, how we handle them and move beyond them does, myself being blind, hard of hearing, and with Ankylosing Spondylitis.
My wife and kids are my worlds, without them I can’t say I would be alive today, as the life I led before them was literally and utterly insane. They brought out the best in me and so every day I try to give them my best to help them grow and work through anything that may come their way. I cannot say life has been easy or always cupcakes and rainbows, but it has been a life I would not trade for any amount of gold. Every struggle drove us closer, every setback had us face it together and we’ve come through everything a better familial unit, better understanding one another. The biggest struggle, the Covid-19 pandemic, we faced together locked inside of our home for many months (all but to go to grocery stores or doctor’s appointments) we came out together.
Now my children are learning all about Judaism alongside my wife and me, loving everything they’ve learned and even taking part in the rituals and ceremonies in our home. The four of them having special needs doesn’t slow them down at all in growing, nor has it hurt our family, if anything it’s strengthened us. We come to understand the issues each other faces and we decide to face them together, building on our family. We pray together with flame on our tongues and love swelling inside of us, we play, clean, cry, laugh, and celebrate every victory in our lives together.
I owe everything in my life to my family, my breath, my work, my heart, the only part of me they cannot have is my soul…that’s already claimed 🙂
Children with special needs aren’t weird, they’re just different, they see things differently, hear them differently, this is what makes them special. They want what every other kid wants, to be accepted, have friends to play with, and talk to; these things are universal and with special needs, this isn’t as easy as it is for most. My kids had to be pulled from physical school due to bullying, even in online school kids bully them and call them horrible names and if it’s an online school, you’d figure parents would hear their kids and see what they type right? That is probably the most difficult part of having special needs kids… them making friends and getting bullied and the school and parents of the bullies doing nothing about it. Schools and parents must do better, are we not all human beings and do we not all feel pain inside of us when these things happen to us, can we not allow our kids to slip through the cracks when they hurt other children and actually do something about it!?!?!?
…but I digress…
There are times of great struggle, for my kids and for us as parents, to understand one another; sometimes it’s like we’re speaking two different languages because of the issues they have. It takes time, love, and communication, but we always get things worked out, but it is in no way easy. This past school year was a difficult one, partially because of the pandemic and partially because of my son’s dislike for school due to bullying and due to all of their extras, school being from 8:30 am till around 5:00 pm. Did all four of my littles, pass? Absolutely, but school is something my two sons struggle with. Jocelyn struggles with reading, but otherwise is doing great in her school and Cordelia goes to a school for the deaf and hearing-impaired and loves it.
Children with special needs just need us to spend more time with them, to listen to them, to genuinely hear them, and try to understand them. Children with special needs just need us… us!
Children with special needs do not need judgments or to feel and see your frustrations, only your acceptance, and ability to work with them and be their friend. They are humans, they are your neighbors, they work around us, they try their best, but sometimes have a difficult time relating to people and situations. None of this makes them less human, none of this makes them lesser than any other human being. Don’t think for a minute that staring at them, making disparaging remarks, treating them like idiots, or otherwise being mean or hurtful, hurts them any less than it would hurt you or your kids. Children with special needs, need us!