I have attended the Reel Abilities film festival at the JCC. Last night I saw “Girlfriend” – a story about a young man with Down syndrome who fell in love with a typical woman. I also saw a movie of a profoundly autistic man in China. The story was about the father’s dedication to his child. These movies always leave parents of special needs children in an emotional flurry.
Thousands of questions run through my head, like: “What happens after I am gone?” “How will my child be treated by people?” “Will my child find love?” “Is a child who is high functioning but aware they are different in fact be better off than someone who is oblivious of these differences?” “What is the impact on siblings of a special needs child?”
Even if one movie addresses a limited number of themes, all these questions come out and I am stressed and restless. I am awed by Caily and her progress and frustrated by the world she lives in here. I feel frustrated that I have not done more as an activist. I am scared for Caily–and even though we live in New York, not China, she has big challenges for inclusion in her own NY community. I am afraid of the unknown.
As moms, we always want the best for our kids. I want that for Caily too. But when I look back at my frustrations and confusion, and realize some of these questions are the same questions that might be asked by parents of a typical child. “What happens after I am gone?” “How will my child be treated by people?” “Will my child find love?” These are the worries of all parents.
Of course, the worry runs much deeper with special needs children, but all we can do as parents is offer the best possible setup for our children to live their lives. We want to make sure we provide them with a good education, strong values, a good heart and confidence in themselves so they have the tools they need to go on. We want to make sure they are there for their siblings and other family members and that they are there for them in return.
Obviously, special needs children need more help and preparation for the long journey ahead. I hope I can provide this for Caily so she can go on to lead a healthy, happy, fulfilled life.
Metroimmas what are your worries for your kids’ futures and how do you handle them?
Originally published: February 13, 2012