Lately, I’ve been feeling a deep-seated need to focus on the positive. There is so much sadness and difficulty that comes with having a child with autism. The heartbreak in the extra measure of challenge that your child faces that other children do not. The sorrow you feel sit heavily on your heart as you watch your child struggle to interact with other kids. The knot in your stomach when you hear another child say words that are unknowingly unkind.
Yet buried beneath this heaviness, is a special brand of joy.
There is a unique and indefinable quality that special needs kids have. Something that makes them such a pleasure to be around, to watch them as they learn and grow. Seeing a child with extra challenges beat the odds and learn a vital skill gives a joy and satisfaction that cannot be duplicated.
Our son Toby was blessed with a unique personality that draws people to him. He is likely the most enthusiastic little boy you will ever meet.
He gets so excited about the little things, like taking the dog for a walk, or pancakes for breakfast. It’s contagious too; most people that meet him can’t help but smile. Even if they don’t understand what he’s saying, they still pick up on his inner exhilaration.
Give my boy a Star Wars toy, and he will be over the moon with the kind of excitement that we only see in lottery winners and adrenaline junkies.
The distinct kind of happiness that comes from a child with autism or other special needs does not, however, diminish the enjoyment of children who are neurotypical. I have one child from each of these worlds in my home and I find that they complement each other wonderfully. They love, teach, and help each other.
Despite the hard things about having a child with autism, there is still much to be enjoyed. We are parents of special needs children– and they are truly, genuinely special.