My parents learned I had a disability when I was about eighteen months old. I was born prematurely at six and a half months. I hadn't achieved any of the milestones that babies normally do, like sitting up by myself, crawling or walking. They had taken me to a doctor who tried to elicit a response from me by running his hands down one side of my body. My mom told me I didn't smile, laugh or react in any way. The doctor told them that I was paralysed on my left side and and would never amount to anything. . Mom told me he was a very direct and cold man. She thought I sensed this which was why I didn't show any reaction. I'm not sure if it was this doctor or not who made the final diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy. I can tell you that 'I'm not paralyzed.
I can only imagine their shock and disbelief. My parents lives would never be the same. And, neither would the lives of my siblings. My mom would learn how to do the physical therapy to stretch my arms and legs. I would be fitted with braces that would lock at the knee so I could stand in my standing table and walk in a walker or in between the parallel bars a friend's father made for me. I remember my mom standing behind me, holding on to me, then letting go for a second to see if I achieved standing balance. I tried to walk using crutches, but the balance never came.
I needed a lot of my mom's time and attention. Not only did she care for her children, she also helped my father in our grocery store. She had a lot on her plate.
It's not easy to raise a child with a disability. It takes time away from the other children in the family. So, while parents are devoting their time to caring for and encouraging their disabled child, don't forget their siblings. I'm sure my brother Bob, who is three and a half years old than I am, felt slighted sometimes because of all the attention I received. It wasn't intentional. It was just the way it was. Make time for every child in the family.
A child with a disability can teach their family some much. Lessons about compassion, understanding and acceptance. .It may not always be easy. But, the pride of seeing your child reach a goal they have been working toward makes it all worth it. One of the happiest days for my mom was when I received my Masters.
Whether or not a child has a disability, the most important thing you can give a child is love.