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Changing the Atmosphere

March 9, 2017
Maria Smaldo Spencer , MOV Parent

If you're a special parent, I'm sure you can recall the moment you became "special." You remember the minute, maybe the day or week.the sights and sounds, the time of year, and your circle of support that was with you through each step.

Now think back to that day and picture yourself in the midst of a language you never heard, sights that you never imagined and feeling emotions you never knew existed.

I'm sure that picture is easy to capture in your mind.

Now think about the person you are today. The person you've become since those early days of special parenthood. Whether those days were last week, last month, or five years ago, I'm sure you have changed. The person that you were before your child's disability has changed drastically. The things that you once thought were a big deal that you needed to focus on seem trivial now. You know first hand what it means to prioritize.

Your world has changed, and so has the make up of your heart. I'm positive your child has made you see the world with new eyes. You've had the privilege of going where most parents never have to go. To a place that only special parents get to know as home.

Now I would like you to take a moment and think about all the other people that your child has influenced in a positive way, just by being in their presence. I don't think we realize the impact of how our kids change each and every atmosphere they are infor the better.

My family and I recently watched the movie, "Letters To God," a true story of a little boy that is battling cancer. At one point in the film, the boy asks his Grandfather why this is happening to him. His Grandfather's response was, "When people see how strong and brave you are, it makes them take a look at their own lives."

I think that statement is so very true. Even when we are in a public place with our child and there are strangers all aroundthere is a silent, invisible miracle taking place. We usually don't recognize it at all-because it is going on in the hearts of the people that encounter our child. I know that this is not always easy to see or realize in the midst of a public situation. I am very aware of the fact that being in the public with your child with special needs can be very challenging-regardless of the disability or diagnosis.

My prayer for all of this month is that we will begin focus on the miracles that may be happening on the inside of those that have the opportunity to be with our children.

Maybe these encounters, no matter how long or brief, make others realize that what they have complaining about in their own lives doesn't really matter. Maybe it softens the hearts of those who may have been judgmental towards people with disabilities in the past.

I feel that the way in which we, as parents, continue to endure and have strength during small or large gatherings has a lot to do with this. When people that are around truly see us persevere regardless of the issue with our child may be, I know it makes them look at their own lives. Whether they are family, acquaintances or strangers-our kids are restructuring the make-up of their hearts. They may not even know it in the moment, but it may be when they encounter another special family and view them differently than they had in the past, will they realize something is taking place inside of them that they never felt before.

I also feel it is important to mention our kids' teachers, therapists, etc Regardless of how long they have been around children with special needs, I am convinced that since each and every one of our kids are unique; professionals continue to learn from all of them. One of my daughter's previous teachers had not had much experience teaching children her age. He continually encouraged her and others in the class, and adapted to all of their needs. He was one of our angels on our journey. He said to her once, "Thank you for being you. You always make my dayno matter what kind of day I'm having, you always make it better." He is proof that at least one of his students made him look at his own life and his profession in a new way. She has altered a portion of his heart, and I am sure that many other students are doing the same. Let's try our best to focus on the positive effect our kids have on those they come in contact with. By doing so, I know we will gain even more of the strength we need to keep on keeping on.

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 helpandhopeconsulting@gmail.com

 
 

 

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