Why do some people perceive our children with special needs as ‘not enough’? Why don’t they see what we see? Why aren't our children with special needs valued or seen like other children are?
As a parent to a daughter with Atypical Rett Syndrome, and as a Pediatric NeuroMovement® practitioner, I believe our children with special needs are beyond enough.
Like all children, they are teachers to us. And like all children, they have purpose. The difference, perhaps, is that children with special needs come to us with an opportunity to move us beyond how we currently see life and its meaning. They show us what it really means to express our true essence – from the inside out, not the outside in.
Becoming a Parent
Becoming a parent is a life changing event where we are forced to grow, shift, and adapt; where we are triggered and led to face and heal various parts of ourselves that we didn't know needed healing. To become a parent, is to become a better version of ourselves, over time, if we so choose. ⠀
Becoming a parent to a child with special needs brings personal healing to another level, if we are open to seeing it this way.
The growth, the constant need to adapt, the shifts in day to day life are multiplied ten-fold, and thus, the need to go inwards and heal is accelerated. The need to evolve and transform is no longer an option, but a necessary step forward to be able to see the silver lining.
“Everything you seek is inside you.” – Joey Klein
The blessing in being the parent of a child with special needs is that we can live our best life sooner, if we are open to changing our perspective, and if we are willing to do our own personal work to make room for a new way of life.
The life we knew before our children with special needs was a life filled with old programming, societal influences of what is considered success and beauty, and self-imposed pressures to conform and fit in.
“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” – Maya Angelou
Children with special needs have a wonderful ability to help us see our beauty from within, as we see theirs, rather than focusing solely on our shell and what we have to show on the outside. They change our way of seeking meaning in life by shifting our attention inwards.
These children are born into imperfect structures with challenges that limit their ability to be like everyone else. I have often felt that the challenges they face, and the fact that they are different, greatly influences who they become on the inside, and in some ways, is part of their gift, whether that be translated into wisdom, resilience, presence, the ability to remain in their hearts, or any other beautiful quality that I have come across. Their challenges often force them to develop other abilities, other senses, other characteristics that can take some people years, and decades to master, if they do at all.
What is Different is Beautiful
As a pediatric NeuroMovement® practitioner, I have been moved by every single child that has walked through my door and in very different ways, because they all have something that is unique about them. Something that is only theirs to share, just as we all do.
As a parent to a child with special needs, I have discovered that to truly see our children and fully appreciate them in their true essence, without expectation and without fear, we must be open to facing ourselves, to healing our childhood wounds, to embracing our shadow side, and to loving ourselves in our perfect imperfection. It’s only then, that we will be able to detach from any preconceived outcomes, and fully support our children in reaching their full potential and be who they are meant to be, whatever that may be or look like.
“When we are able to embody the change that our children trigger in us, we become emotionally integrated and set our children free”. – Dr. Shefali
When we don’t allow our children the freedom to be who they are, we limit their capacity to develop their gifts. It is that which makes them different that makes them special and wise. Our programming, our view of who they are to the outside world, our expectations of who they are supposed to be in life, actually limits what they can become.
“When we see how our children's limitations affect us as an impetus for our own awakening, we absolve them of the burden of having to "fix"" themselves”. – Dr. Shefali
Our children don't need to be fixed. They're perfect just as they are. Changing the lives of everyone they come across. It's our own wounding that needs healing.
Our children have given us a great challenge in choosing us to be their parents, but they have also given us a great blessing should we be able to evolve, grow and transform.
“Embrace each challenge in your life as an opportunity for self transformation.” – Berme S. Siegel
Children with special needs have great purpose; and in order to help them become who they are meant to be and express themselves fully, we must learn to let go of control, let go of our idea of what is meant for them, and shift our perspective. We must learn to tune into their needs and desires, their interest, not what we desire or envision for them.
When we impose our goals and visions on our children, we limit their ability to discover what is special and unique within them. We miss an opportunity to tune into them, to truly see them, and to support them in developing what is meant for them.
“As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has – or ever will have – something inside that is unique to all time. It’s our job to encourage each other to discover that uniqueness and to provide ways of developing its expression.” – Mr. Rogers
There are so many wonderful modalities out there to help our children with special needs thrive, learn, evolve, and develop their gifts. However, there isn't a one size fits all approach.
As parents, we have the ability to have a life changing impact on our children's progress if we are able to shift our attention to our children's needs, wants, interests and desires, to tune into what is different, what is unique in them, and to cherish those parts of them, all the while disconnecting from our own wants and goals as it relates to their development and evolution.
Embrace the Opportunity That has Been Gifted to you
Our children with special needs help us step out of judgment and into love. They teach us to appreciate the ordinary. They help us slow down and become present. They show us what beauty really means. They help us become more inclusive and compassionate. They help us see and appreciate people as they are.
They show us how to flow through life rather than to plan every step. They teach us to trust in life, because life has a plan, and for some of us, our child with special needs can be that turning point that leads us to live, and not merely just exist.
They have the ability to shake us so profoundly that we have no choice but to shed all the heaviness that has been holding us back from being our truest most authentic selves. Because it’s only when we become in tuned with our deeper selves that we are able to discover our purpose, what we’re here for, and how our existence can in some way help shift humanity towards more love and kindness.
When we heal ourselves and we are open to receiving the teachings our child is offering us, we become happier, more fulfilled, and more joyful from within. Relying less on external fulfillment. We become more confident in our being, in who we are. A distant memory are the days when others’ opinions of us or of our children mattered. ⠀
In this space, we are able to truly see our child, appreciate them fully just as they are, which in turn supports them more on their path towards their truest most authentic selves, towards their purpose, and their reason for being.
The moment we chose to change our perception about our lives and the challenges we face, is the day we begin to navigate this journey very differently. ⠀