Before having children, when I envisioned my life with kids, I envisioned something straight out of “Leave it to Beaver”. I’d have the “perfect” child: nicely dressed and groomed, well-behaved, and brilliant. And I, of course, would be the quintessential June Cleaver. Armed with a degree in home economics, good amniocentesis results, and high Apgar scores, I was convinced that I was well on my way to making the dream a reality. But, reality became a nightmare when doctors diagnosed my son with a form of autism, and we were told that he would never live a productive, independent life. My child was the one who struggled in school, had uncontrollable temper tantrums, and couldn’t remember to brush his teeth every day.
Some mothers are thankful for being given the “gift” of a child with special needs. I’m not one of them. In truth, I wish my son hadn’t been burdened with these challenges. And, frankly, being his mother is no picnic. Trying to navigate through the educational, medical and psychiatric worlds on his behalf is incredibly stressful. Watching him struggle, despite my best efforts, has been heartbreaking. Nonetheless, being his mother has been one of my greatest gifts in life, and I’m forever grateful for having been given it.
I’m grateful because being his mother has given me the opportunity to watch a very special child grow into an incredible young man. I’m in awe of his sweet nature, his ability to greet each day with a smile, despite his challenges, and his tenacity and determination – qualities that have enabled him to finish high school with a 3.7 GPA and go on to a program that’s preparing him to live and work on his own and even attend college. He’s a true testament to the belief that a diagnosis doesn’t define what a child is truly capable of.
I’m grateful that other students have benefited from our fight on his behalf and that this experience has formed the foundation for my life’s work.
But, most of all, I’m grateful because my son has always loved me – unconditionally, in spite of all the times I’ve expressed my frustration and all the mistakes I’ve made along the way.
He’s not the “perfect” child I envisioned. He’s so much more. I love you, Victor!
© 2011 Pamela J. Milazzo, SAIL Institute
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this blurb with it: Pam Milazzo is the founder and creator of SAIL Institute and the Clear SAILing Formula for Independence™, an innovative program for students with ADHD, Asperger’s and Executive Functioning deficits. When students are struggling and parents are at their wits’ end because they don’t know what their child needs or where to turn for help, Pam Milazzo has the answers. The results are nothing short of life changing for every member of the family: stress levels are reduced significantly, relationships are healed and strengthened, daily life no longer revolves around “what’s wrong and how to fix it”, and students are able to realize the dreams they and their parents have for their lives. For a limited time SAIL Institute is offering FREE Charter Membership in our Exclusive Inner Circle Program, featuring a monthly forum with direct access to Pam and a private online community “Ning” site available 24/7 exclusively for members. To register, go to www.SAILInstitute.com.