A while back, a question came up in one of our Facebook support groups.
How do you cope with the daily struggles of your special needs child?
The response was overwhelming and informative. Everyone came together to offer their personal views and suggestions how they to cope with their child’s condition and the daily challenges it presents. There were perspectives and thoughts that I hadn’t yet been able to think about. It started to really make me think.
I also chimed in as it has been quite a personal journey for me to get to where I am. Learning how to cope is part of the natural process all of us need to go through. I was a completely different person prior to having our two girls. I would only think about superficial things and had no real grasp on life was really about. My perspective was very narrow minded. When Hayden was born, however, I started to see things differently. Her diagnosis, her struggles, and the struggles I face as her father has constantly made me think differently.
I beam with pride every time Hayden makes it through another poke, or walks one more step, or smiles or pretty much anything she does. She has already accomplished so much. I brag about how tough she is and how she is my own superhero. As she is nonverbal, I have always thought about the possibility that she won’t talk.
Would I ever get to hear “I love you daddy”? What if she never talks?
My answer came to me one day from Hayden herself. I was holding her and we were dancing to Garth Brooks. She was giggling and smiling and having a good time. Halfway through the song for no reason she buried her head against my shoulder and held it there, as if to tell me, “I love you daddy”. I immediately burst into tears and I knew in that moment it didn’t matter whether she would speak those words or not. She told me she loved me in her own way. It was a profound experience that I am thankful for. She does communicate, it is just in her own way that she expresses how she feels. She has shown me that communication is more that words spoken. Through this experience, she has shown me another perspective.
Sometimes, perspective is all that is needed to bring chang. I now try and see things from a few perspectives. No matter what it is, trying to see things in a positive light goes a long way. It can be incredibly tough, and sometimes it seems impossible. Choosing to see Hayden’s abilities rather than dreading about what she doesn’t or may not do, has helped me cope. The change in perspective has helped me see the beauty in her condition and look forward to the incredible things I will get to experience as her dad. It has helped me see who she is and everything she has already accomplished in her life. It allows me to be strong for her in dark times and gives me hope. She is my teacher, and she has already taught me more than I could ever wish as a father.
Unfortunately, I have had conversations with others that see things differently. They see her condition and her resulting limitations as who she is and associate it with a lacking quality of life or purpose. This is what I hope to change. That even though she is not neurologically, genetically, or physically typical, she DOES bring value and purpose into this world. She IS different, and that is awesome.
This is where awareness comes in. I don’t want to teach my kids to conform to what others are comfortable with. I don’t want my kids to feel any kind of negative feelings because they are different. I want to show others that there is so much more to Hayden and many other kids out there then just their diagnosis, condition, or any difference they may have. The have value. They have purpose. We want to change the way society views these kids and help them see another, more beautiful perspective.
This is what SEE THE POTENTIAL is about. When you see this logo, we hope it becomes a reminder to see the potential in ALL kids and on a broader scale, everyone. It’s carries the belief that potential exists within everyone regardless of condition, diagnosis, or difference. The belief that WE, as society, can become better and see the potential in ourselves to grow and learn from other’s differences.
I would love to hear if there was a time in your life where a change in perspective led to positive growth. Or maybe you have a story to tell. Let us know.