I am a proud Therapy Mom. You may wonder what is a Therapy Mom? Well, I will tell you – a mom who puts thousands of miles of the family mini-van driving her child with special needs to therapy appointment after therapy appointment; a woman who catches up with old acquaintances at pediatric medical/therapy offices because our kids’ appointments overlap, a working professional who takes conference calls in her mobile office while her child is working her little butt off in this therapy session or that one; a lay person with enough knowledge about a myriad of conditions and treatment options she can hold her own with trained medical and therapeutic professionals. But mostly, I am the mom of a child with special needs, a child who works so hard, I rather focus on her efforts than her needs.
I will still use the accepted term of special needs parent or autism mom but I prefer to refer to myself as a Therapy Mom. Just like a Soccer, Hockey or Swimming Mom who is proud of the effort, time and dedication her child devotes to a sport or activity – I am proud of the time, energy and dedication my daughter devotes to mastering skills that come naturally to most, overcoming obstacles that most of the world doesn’t understand all while enriching the life of so many people.
I don’t want to glamorize the life of being the mom of a child with special needs because it is hard, the hardest things I have ever done. But I do want share my pride and joy in being Caroline’s Mom. Being the mother to Caroline has challenged me and forced me to grow in ways I never considered before I donned the label “special needs parent.” There are parts of being a special needs parent that will cause the strongest amongst us to ask our deity of choice of for the wherewithal to provide for our children, for the restraint to do no harm during an IEP meeting, for forgiveness for the combination of words we used when “talking” to the insurance company, for the energy to make it through another day without sleep; and for patience – for just about everything. Having said that I also think it is important for people to know how much pride I take in my daughter, her accomplishments and all that she brings to the world – not just my world but the world.
Caroline has a whole host of diagnoses (among them autism) but none of them define her. Like many people with autism Caroline struggles with sharing joy but she does not struggle with bringing joy to others. It is a gentle distinction but an important one. Caroline’s passionate and playful personality captures the heart of strangers and close acquaintances alike. Her struggles are part of who she is and how she deals with them says a lot about her as a person. People are drawn to Caroline not out of sadness for what could have been but for what she is and for what she brings to them. Caroline has a way of reminding people that if you look hard enough you can find the good in almost every situation.
I am a Therapy Mom, the proud mother of a wonderful daughter who works hard at aquatic, behavioral, equine, feeding, music, occupational, physical and speech therapy. Every day she amazes me with the new skills she acquires and the obstacles she is able to overcome. Just because Caroline has to work hard at things that may come easily to other people should not and will not diminish my respect and admiration for her work ethic. Nor will it stop from sharing all of her wonderful achievements in and out of therapy. I don’t mind listening when other parents share stories about their children’s latest accomplishments but I frequently feel when I share Caroline’s achievements people are uncomfortable or unsettled by the fact that I want to celebrate or even share Caroline’s most recent accomplishment or milestone which may have occurred 4 years later than most typically developing children. To me that is all the more reason to celebrate – she worked for 4 more years to achieve said milestone.
I will celebrate with you when your child wins the state championship for whatever sport or is named the honor roll all I ask in return is that when I share one of Caroline’s accomplishments you don’t diminish it or refuse to engage in the conversation. I am a proud Therapy Mom because my daughter gets it done EVERYDAY in therapy!
Are you a proud therapy mom or dad?