I know a mom who did not receive a Mother’s Day gift last Sunday. She was not told “Thank you;” she was not given a hug, a gift card nor treated to brunch.
Her adult son is always with her, latched onto her arm. She escorts him everywhere because he has special needs and is unable to maneuver about without assistance. She is his guide, defender, provider, advocate and caretaker. He goes everywhere with her.
His particular set of needs is challenging; I’m sure she is exhausted. Plagued with seizures and movement and speech disorders, I’ve never heard him utter a coherent word. His sweet mother is forced to translate his verbal tics and utterances into a tender language only she understands.
As I think about the sheer joy and connection that I feel with my children when I engage their little brains in conversation, I sympathize for this mother who gives far more than I as a parent yet reaps nothing in return.
I can think of several more parents that I come into contact with regularly that serve as full-time caretaker for a child.
Often these parents’ task is to simply trudge through the day providing the basic necessities of life for their child. They get little recognition much less the chance to watch their child play sports, participate in dance or be celebrated as “normal” children are.
When I opened The Lufkin Daily News on Tuesday to see the coverage of the Lufkin High School Special Education Department Graduation, I was so proud of my community.
I read how two seniors delivered eloquent addresses at the commencement, with one even delivering her speech in English and Spanish. I was proud to see the LISD superintendent and school board members present for the ceremony as their participation conveyed that this accomplishment for these kids is truly exceptional.
Parents of special needs children must necessarily walk hand-in-hand with the school who attends to their needs while providing education, a sense of belonging and purpose. Often medications are involved and must be administered during school hours.
School nurses, teachers and aides should be familiar with the child’s medication regimen to ensure proper doses are given at the proper time. Those involved in care also should be educated on what to look for after medications are administered namely drowsiness, dizziness, changes in bowel habits, appetite changes, new or worsened tics, movement difficulties, gait changes, etc.
Teachers and aides are vital in relaying to parents possible side effects or behaviors that may eventually lead to changes in medications or doses by the child’s doctor. Two-way communication is important as the school and parents work together to empower these children to live life in spite of disability.
Special Ed principal Dana Bickley summed it up best by saying that “greatness should not be measured by the amount of gifts and abilities a person possesses, but by the degree to which that person uses their uniquely endowed gifts and talents to improve and enhance the world and lives around them.”
Congratulations to the graduates: Ciara Dolman, Eulises Garcia, Gissel Garcia, Jurnee Hicks, Ashley Lopez, Christian Montgomery, Olivia Morgan, Gabriel Mosig, Kendall Payne, Judy Shiflet, Ben Thomas, Ethan Thompson and Pascual Tovar.
And to the mother I mentioned in the beginning, thank you. Thank you for demonstrating to your son patience, kindness and grace. You are an inspiration.