How Did I Get Here?

October 16, 2020

The journey to writing this first sentence has been a long one. It has been filled with so many diverse experiences, relationships (both student-teacher and parent-teacher) and amazing memories that have shaped the person I am today.  When I think back on who I was before entering into the field of Special Education, I recall someone sensitive and aware but lacking the understanding of what a family with a child possessing special needs faces.

My exposure to the nature of disabilities began very early in my life. I grew up with an uncle, paralyzed from the time he was 25, who lived with my family for a period of time when I was around 9 years old.  Watching him struggle to complete daily living tasks that an able bodied person might take for granted, was eye opening to how challenging the life of someone with a disability, could be.  However, regardless of his reality, he was a person first. He didn’t define his existence by his disability so neither did I.  Being with him seemed to me as natural as throwing a baseball; the only difference being… my uncle couldn’t walk.

I remember, in earlier years, how I loved when he’d give me rides as I stood on the back tilt bars of his wheelchair and that there was an extra chair in the garage that I would play with. It was all very light and innocent for a young boy who grew up in a world where disability was all but hidden. There was no education beyond my personal experiences. We weren’t as enlightened back then. Prior to his living with us, my uncle’s chair, in a sense, was the disability to me.  I understood that it substituted for his legs, but, that’s pretty much where it stopped. However, for my uncle, beyond that chair was so much more packed into the duffel bag that was his world. And when I was exposed to the everydayness of his life and that bag, I was awakened!

And now I am here. I have experienced from the inside, the worlds of families, different and the same, unique yet familiar to all who live it. I have witnessed the depth of their involvement. Aspects like the unending hours of care, scheduling, doctor visits, sacrifices, desperation, coping with meltdowns, managing to maintain “normalcy, ” the strains on relationships and the lost sense of self. All of the things other families don’t have to imagine. Yet, all of the things that make your life and your reality enormously important. And the good news? Despite and because of these there are the triumphs! And because of you, there is a “she” and there is a ”he.” There is the beauty of this unique person who graces this earth. An individual, who when allowed the opportunity, can achieve her or his potential. And that’s what you do everyday when you deal with “all of it.” You lend purpose and you give love, and your heart, to someone so deserving and capable and who, from my experiences, can blow your mind when given a chance!

So let this new journey begin. I hope to visit mindfulness and kindness as threads that weave this website’s core. Be mindful! Be kind! But not only of, and to others. Be mindful of you. Be kind to you. For that is how we triumph, when we have more or all of ourselves. Then we can give. 🙂

Peace and Keep Rising

Published by riseup20

I am a retired teacher with a creative bent and I am excited to bring attention and assistance to parents and caregivers of children with special needs. Mark

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