The Down Syndrome Awareness magnet arrived yesterday! I also got a keychain. I'm so excited! I mean, I am really excited about this!
It's kinda funny though because I didn't use to be excited about Down Syndrome. When Beth was about 4 or 5, (we were here in Washington so she had to be at least 4) Chuck and I went to a support group. I don't remember if it was an 'official' Ds support group or just some families getting together. But I remember the only thing they talked about was special needs. Therapy, para educators, doctors, treatments, etc.
On the way home Chuck and I talked about how we felt like we were drowning. Beth joined our lives already in progress, we didn't join hers. Our family is into sports and photography and traveling, but none of that was talked about. We didn't really get to know these other families, just mainly vented about how difficult it was to raise a child with special needs. Maybe we didn't give it a chance.
But we never went back.
Now don't get me wrong, we spent many hours with Beth working with her speech, potty training her, going to IEP meetings. In fact, our girls have felt that we often neglected them because we spent so much time with Beth. I feel horrible that they have those memories and feelings about childhood. Parenting isn't easy!
Beth joined our family. She became a part of us. Having Down Syndrome had an effect on our family, as it should but I don't think we spent her growing up years saturated in the world of special needs.
Now it's almost all I think about. Now that the girls are grown, I am wanting to make a difference in the lives of families who have children with special needs. The best place for me to start is at our church.
We have our Special Connections Sunday school class and I'm constantly thinking about ways to improve it. Equipment we can add, sensory toys we could purchase. We recently moved into a bigger, better room. We now have our own bathroom. A huge deal! We have direct access to the outside playground. I've been looking at calming lights and tents for quiet time. We have some carpeted stairs to help the kids with their gross motor skills.
I want to get the young adults who have special needs involved in youth activities. I want to encourage the youth of our church to get involved with the young adults with special needs. It can only improve the relationships between the two groups and show that living life with special needs is more normal than they think!
I have so many ideas!!! But I'm not sure where to start. At times it seems so overwhelming; when I see the big picture it makes me want to run away! We've been attending Westgate for almost 23 years and I've never had this desire before. I know it's the Lord putting this in my heart.
Deep down, this is what I want to do with the rest of my life.