Raising a Child or Children With Special Needs

Jaina is my beautiful, sweet, spirited, clever, and opinionated (step) daughter. I dislike the term "step" because I love and treat her as my own--even wish she was. For those of you who aren't aware, Jaina has Down Syndrome. She also has trouble with her ears.

Jonah is my sweet, adorable, handsome, brilliant, and curious son. Jonah has a narrow heart valve near his aorta that caused a lot of fatigue when he was months younger (and he has stopped breathing a few times). He has also syndactyly (known as webbing or fusing of the fingers). Two fingers on each of his hands cannot separate, one is worse than the other. He will be having surgery soon. This caused a lack in his motor skills.

Raising a special needs child is much different than raising one without. Our time and patience is more demanding. It can be more stressful, at time. We have a substantial amount of doctors and a physical therapist who comes to our home once a week. We have to put up with other people's negative opinions and degrading looks when we are in restaurants, shopping centers, or out having family fun time. We are the ones who wipe the tears from our child's eyes when other children refuse to play with them because they are "different." And we cry with our children because the world is full of ignorance.

But, when our children accomplish something...well, it's like winning the lottery. We laugh, we cry, we cheer, we celebrate. I remember trying to hold back tears last year when Jaina recited the alphabet (she was nine and a half years old). Or when about three months ago, Jonah finally reached out and grasped an object. I remember which one, too, and where. I was wondering if he would ever try to.
And, boy, do they love being praised.
I am not stating every parent of a non-special needs child doesn't get a thrill out of watching their child accomplish something, but from the ones I've seen...it is not a big deal to them since their peers are already doing so. Jaina has yet to read and Jonah still hasn't accomplished crawling or sitting up (but can for a whole minute now!), but once Jaina learns how to read a book by herself, I think we will take her out and celebrate.

What I want you all to learn from this: Educate yourself and your child(ren) about those with special needs. Some disabilities cannot be seen.

(I also have many family members with special needs and tutored two as well).

03
Melissa MiddletonPennington Gap, Virginia
    08/19/14
    :) That's some sweet kids you have there. She's your 'bonus' baby. :)
    1
    08/19/14
    Melissa Middleton
    Haha, I like that "bonus" baby. :)
    And thank you.
    1
      08/19/14
      5sarah
      My mother inlaw takes care of special needs people. It's sad how many parents give up on their children and just place them somewhere else because they have a need or a few needs. It makes me glad to see that you not only take on your child but your husbands as well and act as a mother to her. They're lucky kids.
      2
      08/19/14
      Melissa Middleton
      Aw, thank you, Sarah. I'm the lucky one though. Yes, it is sad to hear how some parents do not want their children because they have a few extra needs. It breaks my heart when I hear stories about that. They are the ones missing out.
      1
        08/19/14
        Comment deleted
        08/19/14
        Melissa Middleton
        Thank you, Sheila. I try my best but I'm still not supermom.
        0
          08/27/14
          Jaina reminds me a lot of my youngest sister-in-law, Samantha (Manthie). She's also 11 and also has Down's. She is leaning to read as well. :) I absolutely adore her, but she loves pushing buttons and testing the boundaries for sure.

          One story I will never forget: when she was around seven or eight she was staying over at our apartment and I decided to make peanut butter cookies. Well, she wanted to help and I was totally on board with that. When I left the kitchen for a minute to find her brother to see if he wanted to help I came back in to peanut butter cookie dough full of cat nip... I initially got angry, but then I started laughing about it and told her we had to restart since people can't eat cat nip. :)
          2
          08/27/14
          Melissa Middleton
          Lol...that sounds like something Jaina would do. I cannot help but laugh, either.
          Jaina also likes to be bossy and take over so. I tried cooking with her but that didn't go over too well. She doesn't understand why she can't stand near a hot stove, so we just stick to baking.
          1
          09/02/14
          Melissa Middleton
          I am not a fan of it, either. And I agree with you. Jaina used to have one but it took a while to correct it. I am not sure she knew what she was saying--she just picked it up at her mother's because it is not allowed here.
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          About Melissa Middleton
          Current: Pennington Gap, Virginia
          Birth: April 13
          On Moms.com since: Mar 21, 2014
          Mother of an active son, a precious baby girl, & a diva step-daughter (who lives with us). I am an artist, baker, organic gardener, frugal liver, & a Christian--happily married to my best-friend. Blogger at www.chasingwildhorses.com