Wednesday, April 7, 2010
The sisterhood of the special needs child
We are headed home from Disney World. The line at airport security is impossibly long, and I know Max is going to wig out because crowds unnerve him. In situations like this, I have been able to explain to a staffer about Max's special needs, and they have let him go through the employee security entrance. I approach the woman stationed there, and explain that I have a child with special needs who gets upset by crowds.
"You can't go in here," she says. "Do you have any suggestions?" I ask. "You can walk over to Gate B, where they have a family entrance," she answers. "Wait—you want us to walk all the way over to another gate? I have a feeling that might be just as crowded." She stares at me. "Well, that's your choice," she says, matter-of-factly.
I walk away and spot a woman with a Transportation Authority badge headed toward us. I stop her and tell her about Max, not mentioning that we have just been turned away from the employee entrance. "Come with me," she says, and we head right back to the employee entrance. I am feeling a little giddy at the thought of seeing Ms. Stonyface again. "This family needs to go through here," the Transportation Authority woman says, adding something I can't hear, and then she waves us through. "I have a child with autism," she says to me, quietly. "I know how it goes."
This is the sisterhood of the special needs child, that instant connection with someone else who has a child with disabilities.
It is a look from the other mom at a birthday party where your two kids are clearly the only ones with challenges.
It is the conversation you so easily strike up with the other mom in the waiting room at the developmental pediatrician/neurologist/[fill in the blank] specialist.
It is finding out that another woman in your network of work friends also has a child with special needs, seeing her for the first time in years and hugging her tight.
It is going to an event for kids with special needs and getting excited for other moms when their kids do something awesome because you know that giddy feeling of "YES. HE. CAN!!!!"
It is finding out that someone else in your neighborhood has a child in Early Intervention and trading notes when you bump into each other in town.
It is being asked by a friend to call one of her friends who has a child recently born or diagnosed with special needs, calling, and talking like you've known each other for years.
It is being in a restaurant, mall or park, noticing another mom with a kid who is handicapped, and suddenly feeling less alone in a sea of typical parents with typical kids.
It is the bond I share with all of you.
This is the sisterhood of the special needs child.
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Photo by idg