The diagnosis. The plans. The equipment. The routines. The compromises. Everything that comes along with your very special, neurodiverse child adds a degree of difficulty. Am I wrong for saying that? Bear with me. I know first hand that this life is more difficult, but I also know that it's better.
From the moment you lay eyes on your child, you know you're willing to sacrifice anything and everything of yourself for them. That is true of ALL our children, to be sure. And with our special needs kids, there is a twinge of knowledge, even from the very beginning of their lives, that they will need more, require more sacrifice from us, parents and caregivers.
I'm here to tell you, that is a wonderful blessing!
Some of us will never see our former plans come to fruition, whether that means with a career, travel, starting a business, solving a global issue, whatever it is. And that's ok. In fact, it's better than ok; it's both necessary and inspiring.
Do you know what this world needs more of? People who are willing to sacrifice their own needs for those of others. And when you've already gotten a taste of this mindset in an immediate way, you begin to see how you can convey it on a larger scale.
Every time you cancel a plan or reroute a decision to accommodate our most fragile and complex human beings – our kids – you are becoming more empathetic, more selfless, and more compassionate. These are cherished gifts we should all seek to practice being thankful for!
In the past couple of years, there has been a social movement to encourage more "kindness" in the world. We've all been encouraged to practice "random acts of kindness" toward strangers. That is a good place to start with practicing sacrifice, but we can go further. What if we practice intentional acts of sacrifice? If we intentionally look for opportunities to be sacrificial, we will find them.
We can commit to making long-term connections with other neurodiverse families. We can gently educate neurotypical acquaintances on inclusion. We can encourage local businesses to make small changes that increase accessibility. When we put our own comfort on the line initially, which can be stressful and scary, we will become more comfortable with doing so.
That is not an easy way to live, but it is better, more rewarding, and very much loving to our kids.