Thursday, January 24, 2013

Things Could Be Worse

   One of our favorite things to do with our boys had always been to head down to Florida once or twice a year. After Mikey's graduation, we decided to take a trip to Disney. It had always been a favorite destination of ours, and the boys loved it too. Many special needs families that I have had the pleasure of meeting throughout the years, have very different opinions about vacationing. Mike and I had always traveled with the boys,even when they were infants. It had always been a great experience for the kids, and  gave us an opportunity for some much needed family time.
   I have had many parents tell me that they are afraid to travel with their special needs children because it was not part of their normal routine. Others have expressed fear, explaining that the possible "meltdowns" would be too stressful for everyone. Other families just go with the flow. We never held ourselves or our children back for fear of what anyone else would think. That truly did not matter to us. We had taken a vacation every year, as well as spent all of our summers at the beach with the boys. For us, it was very important to expose not only Mikey, but all of our children to as much as possible. Fortunately for us, Mikey loved to travel, and was always up for an adventure. I remember one mom telling me that she never takes her child ,who has autism, to the beach for fear of him running away(or eloping, as it is known in the world of autism). While I certainly understand that each child and situation varies, I could never imagine limiting our child or our family like that. Mikey loved the water, the beach, and off we went.
   On this particular trip, the weather was quite warm, our kids were quite young, and of course, we had the occasional meltdown or two. I remember one day we had a rough time in the parks with the kids.They were all moody, and Mikey had become highly agitated about something. Mike and I decided to head back to the hotel for a much needed break for everyone. I was very tired, and was talking to him and asking him if he thought that our lives would be this way forever, meaning ,would we have to deal with meltdowns well into Mikey's adult life. While I was not feeling sorry for myself or us, I was definitely complaining a bit. We continued to chat about it as we waited for the elevator. When the elevator opened, we stepped on and found another family ,who had a few children, one of whom was in a wheelchair. I do not know for sure, but I assumed that the child had either cerebral palsy or some type of brain damage. As we rode the elevator,I listened to the child moan,make gurgling noises, and noticed the difficulty she had with any type of movement.  My heart sank. Mike and I both gave the parents warm smiles, and they exited the elevator at the next stop. As the elevator doors closed, Mike looked at me and said," see,things could be a lot worse."
  It is moments like that ,which truly put us in check, and put everything in perspective. Life could be worse. As a matter of fact, it really wasn't  bad at all. We were the parents of four beautiful boys, who were all healthy. Yes, Mikey had autism, and had difficulty communicating, but physically,he was perfect. We were very fortunate,and throughout the years, I have reminded myself of that over and over again. Have we been leading a typically normal life? No. Have we had our share of difficulties along the way? Yes. However, as crazy as it may sound to some, we knew how fortunate we were. We were actually quite blessed.

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