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Never give up

February 9, 2016
Maria Smaldino Spencer , MOV Parent

All parents are proud when their children are involved in extracurricular activities. For parents of typically developing children, these are expected, routine events. The children practice, get involved and express their talents, and it all is taken for granted. But for our kids that have different abilities, these events are celebrated in a way that only we can relate to. Many of us dream of days that our children can participate in activities with their typical peers. We hope and pray that their limitations will not interfere with doing something they love.

Recently, my daughter participated in a choir concert at her school. We all had the same looks on our faces, anticipating when our child would enter the stage, and sing with their friends. For most families, it was just another concert, another day in the life of their child. But for one very special parent in the audience, it was not just another day, or another concert. This mom's son is a person with high functioning autism, and he has come so very far. As he sat with his peers, waiting patiently in the loud auditorium, I sat in awe. I remember him as a small boy, learning to talk and socialize with his friends, making strides above all expectations. Now, as he sat there, I cried happy tears for his amazing family. All the fruits of their labor were evident in how wonderful he did that night. He stood on the stage and sang every word, with a smile on his face and without any fear. As he sang, I looked over at his parents, and all the struggles, therapies and challenges they faced as a family over the years had disappeared. They beamed with joy and pride watching their son with a glow that shined above all the parents in the crowd. The little things our children do are so very big to us.

My prayer this month is if you have children who are typically developing, please don't take one moment for granted. Celebrate the little things, savor the moments that may be routine. And for those of us that have differently-abled children, know that all your hard work is worth it. You will see progress that no one else sees, you will also glow with joy and see all your sweat and tears come to fruitionif not soon-one day you will. This boy and his parents are proof of that. Your day will come, your moments are on their way.

Article Photos

Maria Smaldino Spencer is a special mom, special needs consultant and a center supervisor administrator at CDI Head Start of Mahoning County in Youngstown. Contact her at



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