Article Categories Home-and-Family Special-Education

How To Handle Finding Out Your Child Will Have Special Needs Their Whole Life

By: Linda J Bennett

HI I'm Linda James Bennett, mother, wife, and businesswoman. 34 years ago I was excited, glowing; everyday was exciting, I was dreaming of a beautiful baby, my first baby. Nothing was impossible, life was perfect. The story in my head would fast forward to dreaming about my baby getting married, having a family, I would be a grandmother - the possibilities were all over the place.

John and I had been married 6 years before taking this big step of having our first child. We had it all planned out. Life just didn't get any better than this, feeling my baby move inside knowing that one day soon I was going to see that cute little face and I just couldn't wait. Time was in slow motion as we waited for the big day.

Finally, Ryan was born with all the right number of fingers and toes all accounted for and we were over the moon with our new little blessing. The doctor told us everything went fine and our baby was doing well.

Like so many new moms with their first child I was looking for assurances that he was developing and reaching his milestones that I read about in baby magazines. I don't consider myself to be really competitive but when there was a milestone to measure I was ready to validate his achievements. My mother instincts were born, the bragging gene that comes with each child, that gives us permission to tell the world what an amazing baby we have that can rollover, crawl, bigger, better, faster than any other child. Oh course with each milestone there is a range that gives us a window of time to measure his achievements so I wasn't too concerned that he wasn't right on target. He was just a little behind the curve. I was ready to cut him some slack; I am his mother, his cheerleader.

The first big clue that something was wrong: he didn't speak. So the search for answers began. Along the way we found wonderful people who started the process of teaching him to speak, something we take for granted. John said he would give anything to hear him speak, 34 years later he would question that wish. Finally, at 4 years old and he had caught up in that milestone. Yeah!

Ryan was active, too active, and 'more than a handful'. Through testing he was placed in special education classes; while we continued our search for answers to 'why' he was not like everyone else. We were grasping for anything that would reassure us that he would one day catch up and be like everyone else his age.

At 9 years old after the DNA testing with inconclusive results it struck me like a crushing blow that he wasn't going to catch up. This is our life, the dreams I had were over for him and for me. Welcome to my new life where my bragging gene was replaced with a sword, because now I was a warrior for my child whose future was uncertain and so was mine. Everything would be different for our family; we would now have to figure out how to fit this square peg into this round world.

Our journey has been filled with joy, laughter, and unexpected achievements that we have learned to embrace. My passion now is reaching out and helping other parents on and through this roller coaster ride to a happy place; where uncertainty is okay. We do this in our Exceptional Parents support group at,

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