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One step at a time

October 8, 2018
Maria Smaldo Spencer , MOV Parent

No matter where you are on your special parent journey...if you've just stumbled upon the beginning of the road, and are searching for signs everywhere or you've been on this path for quite sometime, and you are very familiar with your surroundings, I hope and pray you will relate to the words that are on my heart this month.

When you are in the midst of "survival mode," (the time when you feel like this road is that of a marathon, and you must get to all services and physicians that may help your child asap-you are trying tirelessly to win this race-and all other things in your world have been pushed aside), you don't see any of the scenery that goes along with the special parenting path. And for the time being, that's ok. It's a great place to be when you've accepted that your child is differently- abled in some way than other kids, and you just want to do anything and everything that may help him or her-right now.

As you take on each day in this mode, it is easy to become frustrated, though-you want to see results, and you have a certain expectation of what's to come. Even though you've probably never walked on this road before, you want certain things for your child.

You make decisions that feel good in your gut-and you go for them. And because of that, you want them to produce some sort of success, even the tiniest sign of hope, for your child's future.

My prayer this month is that if this is where you are-don't try to figure it all out. As I say often, I don't claim to know everything about special parenthood, I just give you words based on my experiences...but if the few paragraphs above describe you at this moment, trust me-just try to take it one step at a time. Trying to anticipate each outcome just puts more pressure on you, and causes lots of frustration. Because the goal always involves progress for your child, you want to avoid any stress and frustration on your part as much as possible, because, as I'm sure you know, it just puts unnecessary stress on our kids. When we're stressed, they feel it.

With each service you decide on or decide not to have your child partake in, you are taking steps toward their future. Try not to have a picture in your mind of the way each twist and turn will look-you'll know that part of the road is over when you get there. Yes, there will be many roadblocks and stop signs along the way, just travel with an open mind, and let your heart be your guide. I know at times you feel like there are no signs that support your decisions, and the road looks very dimly lit. Whether you have just started on this journey or you are a seasoned traveler, trust your gut. Let your God-given special parent sense light the way-and know that with each success, the light gets brighter, because we're learning as we take each step.

Don't try to figure it all out, we're all on this road together, trust me, you're going to survive the journey- just allow yourself to take one step at a time.

Maria Smaldino Spencer is a special mom, special needs consultant and the regional coordinator for the Early Childhood Resource Center. Contact her at



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