Monday, January 6, 2014

The most helpful thing for kids with special needs

Max has had major scores over the years: walking, saying words, learning to read. This is because he is bright, because we've had great therapists and because of luck (the stroke didn't damage his brain as much as doctors thought it had). But his milestones, inchstones and every achievement in between have all been powered by one thing: determination. Max has it in abundance.

From early on, the motivation got him moving around, even though his muscles weren't willing. Since his arms couldn't support him to crawl on all fours, Max used them to drag his body forward, commando crawling like a little Army solider around the floor. When his fingers were unable to hold a spoon, Max would keep trying and trying, finally grasping it in a clenched fist. When he wanted to tell us something and we couldn't understand, before the speech app came into his life, Max would repeat himself until we finally got it.

He's still the same today, ready to try, try and try again. Yes, he gets frustrated at times (he usually lets out a "yeowl!"), at which point I'll step in to help or redirect him. But this child just doesn't give up. The determination is well greased with lavish amounts of praise. Max so loves hearing "Yeah! You did it!" and "Great job!" It's hard to tell who squeals more when Max pulls something off, him or me.

The other night, he accidentally reverted his Proloquo2Go speech app to an older version. Dave and I had no clue what to do. Then Max started fiddling with the settings and all of a sudden, he fixed it. "Wow! That was amazing!" I said, and Max's face lit up. For the rest of the night, he kept giving me high-fives.

Sometimes, it's too easy to get caught up in the stuff our kids aren't yet doing. That's when it helps to think about the determination they possess. It's a real asset, one that will keep propelling them to master their abilities as best they can. Speech, occupational, physical and ABA therapy gives our kids the how-tos, but it's the resolve to persist that makes them stick.

Seeing kids bent on overcoming challenges can be therapeutic for parents, too. We spend so much emotional energy hoping/wishing/aching/praying/sending telekinetic vibes for our children to achieve; determination shows that they also want it. That inner strength will get them through life even when physical strength fails them.

I'm not saying Max's determination will someday make him the next rap mogul or President of the United States (President of the Lightning McQueen Fan Club, perhaps). But I know, if I know anything, that he is going to max out his potential and achieve his personal best because of his drive.

This weekend, Max decided to fill the new Lightning McQueen piggy bank he got at Cars Land. Grasping coins is a challenge: They're thin, they've got no grip and Max's pincer grasp is still coming along. I had to help him pick them up. But he kept at it, as you'll see in the video.

Go, Max. GO!


  1. Love his determination! And how awesome that he could fix his app. High fives all around! :)

  2. finally! someone with something positive to say about people with disabilities.
    thank you

    1. Anon, you've gotta get out more—so many blogs like this where parents have all sorts of good stuff to say! :)

  3. Awesome!! Max, you are such a great example. Thanks.

  4. That's awesome! Love that grin at the very end. Give that boy more coins! :D

  5. Watching this makes me want to send him a roll of quarters! That ability to stick with a task like that, even though it's challenging, will take him far! And the fact that he has fabulous hair doesn't hurt either.

  6. Max you are amazing. We are so proud of you in our house tonight xxx Bron

  7. Wow! Now that was impressive. He is definitely one very determined boy, with a fantastic attitude and winning smile. This video made my heart smile!

  8. Thanks, all, for cheering Max on right along with me!

  9. Whatever you do, do it as if you were working for God. Max's zeal certainly fits the description.

  10. What a joy to see this video! Max is sooo freaking cute!!! I hope my little will always be as determined as Max. As of right now, she gets frustrated very easily.

  11. That smile.... Priceless. Go Max, go!

  12. Great article and helpful on many levels I have a 8 year old special needs son planning a Disney Vacation Thank you I needed the words of encouragement


Thanks for sharing!

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