Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Justin's Story

Justin at six months of age
 Everyone's story here on earth begins with conception and ends with death.  Many people have asked about Justin's story.  Was he born this way?  Was it an accident?  Just what happened to make him so different.
Justin was born on January 6, 1995 and was perfect, but his story took an unexpected twist when he was four months old and had gotten his shots.  He had his first seizure that afternoon, but his doctor reassured me it was a breath holding spell.  When he continued to have  "breath holding spells" and his development was not on target, I asked the doctor about it.  I was told every child develops on their own schedule and not worry about it.  My instincts told me something was wrong, but I trusted the doctor and his diagnosis. 
 Then when Justin was thirteen months old, he suffered brain damage from a seizure that almost ended his life.  We later found out he had a reaction to the DTP shot and it caused his brain to swell.  They told me it was rare for that to happen, but it wasn't much consolation because my son was no longer the same.  Since that time, Justin has been labeled with a multi-seizure disorder, ADHD, mental retardation and sensory integration dysfunction.
He still struggles with his disabilities on a daily basis but he takes it all in stride and goes on with life.  If I could change things so it wouldn't be so difficult for him I would, but I love him just the way he is.  Even though his story has had some unexpected twists and turns, it is those circumstances that has made him into the person he is today.  

Thanks again for reading,
Angela :)

Friday, February 22, 2013

The "R" Word

The "R" Word
Justin at age 13

I was dumbfounded the first time I heard Justin was mentally retarded and the realization hit me that he would never live a normal life.  It was hard to accept and took awhile for me to even be able say it without crying.  I knew the stigma attached to this label and I couldn’t help but wonder how receptive people would be towards my little boy when they found out he was the "R" word. 

 The disabilities weren't so obvious when he was younger, but as he grew older more people began to notice “something was wrong” with him.  I tried to focus my attention on teaching Justin proper manners when in public, but I still noticed the stares, whispers and snickers.  The two things that have hurt the most is when people have looked at him with disgust or said "look at that retard".

 I understand why they would be a little standoffish since many haven't been exposed to someone like my son and I've thought many times about what I would say to them.  First of all I would want them to know that there is nothing to be scared of with Justin except for his morning breath.  I would also tell them what a happy, friendly and loving young man he is.  Then with my fingers crossed and a quick prayer to God, maybe just maybe they would want to at least tell him hello.

Yes my son is the "R" word, but to me the "R" stands for his "resilience" to deal with the issues he's been faced with.  Like everyone else in life, my son has a purpose and maybe part of that purpose is to change people's views of someone with the "R" word; even if it is just one person at a time.

As always thanks for reading,
Angela :)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Love In The Eyes Of A Child

When I think of love, 1 Corinthians 13:4–8 (NIV) comes to mind.  These verses from the Bible state that:   "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."   These verses are so beautiful in their explanation of what love is that it's no wonder they are found many times in wedding ceremonies, but when I read them I think of the love of a child.

 It was love at first sight when I looked into each of my children's eyes for the first time.  It was then  I realized that in the eyes of this child, I was everything and they loved me with no questions asked.  Even though there were many sleepless nights, midnight feedings, dirty diapers and messes to clean up, the unconditional love I received has made it all worthwhile. As they have grown older, we have shared many memories we will always have. They still make me feel like I can do anything which in turn gives me the strength to do what needs to be done.  I'm not saying things don't get tough, because it is a constant struggle to keep up with the daily demands of taking care of a family, and having a child with special needs can sometimes add to an already busy schedule, but I always find a way to adjust because it's not about me but about them.

My heart melts every time I think of my children and it has truly been a blessing to watch the love deepen with each passing day.  So my words of wisdom for the day is to love with all that you have.  It means putting yourself aside to put someone else first, but the rewards you reap and the love you get in return is something that will last a lifetime.

Thanks for reading,
Angela :)


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Acceptance Is The Key


Justin at age 15
showing off that smile.
 Acceptance is a key factor for anyone to develop into a healthy, happy and successful adult.  From a newborn babe to the grave, we all seek it.  Someone with special needs though, usually has a harder time finding acceptance.   Of course I notice the looks and snickers when I take Justin out in public.  It bothers me, but not as bad as it used to because one thing I've learned is that many times  people don't understand and they've had little exposure to someone with special needs. 

We fix this by allowing our children to be a part of society.  After all, how can we expect people to accept our children or our children to learn how to fit in if not given the opportunity.  I know from experience this can be difficult, but on the same note I've seen how Justin has blossomed because of his interaction with people.  I began to not pay as much attention to the looks and snickers because no matter where we go, Justin easily makes friends once they stop and take the time to get to know him. 

So take them out and include them as much as possible.  Sometimes the friendships they make last a lifetime and other times it is only for a short time.  As a parent, I cherish the moments when someone makes my son realize he is important.  The look on his face and his sense of belonging is a priceless gift not to be taken for granted.

Thanks for making me feel "accepted" by reading.
Angela :)