That’s right. I’ve got people. After all, it takes a village to raise a Grant.
But not because raising a special needs child is hard. Um, scratch that. Raising a special needs child is super hard.
What I meant to say is this – it takes a village because exceptional children deserve exceptional people to help them be the best they can be. And as parents, we can’t always be exceptional at everything for our kids, no matter how much we wish we could.
Come to think of it, this is true for parenting all children. And every child deserves exceptional people in their lives. I am so blessed that all three of mine have had their lives enriched by some of the coolest damn people in the whole wide world.
Grant began early intervention services when he was 16 weeks old. Since that time, he has worked with many, many amazing people – speech therapists, developmental therapists, behavioral therapists, physical/occupational therapists, physicians, nurses, case managers, teachers, educational aides, daycare providers and more.
I wish I could introduce you to every one of them. Miss Stephanie, his developmental preschool teacher, was so excited she cried when Grant finally went potty in the big potty for the first time when he was 5.
Maggie, his first-ever physical therapist that literally taught Grant to walk. It took 3 years. God bless her, she cried too. Probably from the back pain.
Then there was Lori, the occupational therapist that helped Grant learn to eat solid foods. And our other Lori, his speech therapist, who taught him sign language, then a picture communication system (PECS), and eventually, words.
Still in his daily life are Mr. B and Mrs. P from school. He has been with them since first grade. Then there is Cindy and Don (“Cinny” and “Mr. Don” to us) who provide respite care for us, and in years past, daycare. They are our family who just happen to have a different last name.
And speaking of names, Grant almost never knows the names of the many folks that are a part of his life (with a few exceptions). He can tell you about some obscure bird in the rainforest, but he only knows 13 names. And two of those are dogs. One of which died 5 years ago.
The whole name thing is not personal. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you. He just doesn’t get the point. I am pretty sure he thinks names are a fad.
As a little guy, he would look at us in confusion when we tried to reinforce names. The look in his eyes clearly said, “Just tell me what I need to call you lady to get a bowl of goldfish crackers to come my way.”
I am working on flashcards to help him learn some new names. So I thought I would introduce a few of “my people” to you.
Pictured 1st is Angela, our behavioral therapist. She’s been with us for years and is the little voice on my shoulder helping me along. Not to mention she is super cute and when she comes to pick Grant up for an outing all the boys in the neighborhood are wondering how Grant gets all the pretty girls.
Pictured 2nd is Lindsey, our main nurse when Grant goes for his infusion every four weeks. She’s also a cutie, and has been caring for Grant for years. What I love best about her is how she is firm and loving at the same time. She always reinforces good social skills with Grant, and never lets him slide by without behaving as she knows he can. Yet she has a laminated piece of his art under her RN badge at all times. She’s never brought it up to me, and I’ve never asked her about it. I just notice it when her badge has flipped over. It makes me love her even more.
And then there is Andy, our music therapist. He once followed the Grateful Dead, now he makes music in our living room every Thursday evening. Avery and Lily come running down the stairs when he arrives to chatter with him. And he always, always, lets them play music with him when he is done with therapy. When he was at our house last week, I noticed before he left Lily hugged him and told him “I love you Andy.” When he is in our house, everything is just better. I can’t be stressed or frustrated when he is playing guitar. It is simply impossible.
So there are some of my people. But I’ve got lots more. I wouldn’t trade them for eleven billionty dollars.