Going into IEP meetings, I've noticed that some education professionals like to start sentences with, "As a parent..." blah blah blah blah. Maybe it's their way of letting parents know that, they get it.
But every time I hear those three words, I realize that they don't get it all. And I want to hold up my hand and ask "Are you a parent like me?"
Because as a parent, I have had to put my child on a school bus before he could speak and while he was still in diapers.
As a parent, I've wondered if my child will ever speak.
As a parent, I've stayed up nights worrying about what my child's life will be like when I'm gone.
As a parent, I've had to separate my child from his diagnosis.
As a parent, I have had strangers in and out of my home, helping my child learn the most basic tasks.
As a parent, I've had to rearrange my work schedule to accommodate all the strangers in and out of my home.
As a parent, I've had to turn down invitations to birthday parties and gatherings because therapy always comes first.
As a parent, I've had to turn down invitations to birthday parties and gatherings because I knew the invitation would be in a place my child could not handle.
As a parent, I've had to teach my child how to imagine, to play and pretend.
As a parent, I use the majority of my vacation days for doctors appointments and evaluations.
As a parent, I cried, the first time my child said Mommy because I thought the words would never return.
As a parent, I marvel at every single accomplishment my child makes, because I know how hard my child had to work to achieve it.
As a parent, I wonder what his days are like because even though my child has speech, he cannot tell me what he had for lunch, what he did in school or about the best part of his day.
As a parent, I've learned to ignore strangers staring at my child.
As a parent, I've had to study special education laws and different teaching methodologies.
As a parent, I've had strangers, determine what is most appropriate for my child.
As a parent, I've had to fight for my child to get the appropriate services he needs.
As a parent, I've had to fight the people who start their sentences with "As a parent..."
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AutismWonderland - written by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez - is a personal blog chronicling a NYC family's journey with autism, while also sharing local resources for children/families with special needs.