My story started many, many years ago and I believe that God was shaping me from the beginning. However, I think a pivotal moment was in 2010 when I walked a labyrinth and prayed to God to give me guidance on what he wanted for my life. I was completely open to it at this time. A week later I was presented with a career change and began providing residential support for adults with developmental disabilities. In 2014 I was open again to where God was calling me and another door opened to grow my knowledge base and support daycare programs on the inclusion for children with developmental disabilities in addition to respite support for children and adults. I didn’t know how key this was going to be until this year.
My husband and I were blessed with a son in 2011. He is loving, intuitive, inquisitive and extremely exuberant! He was always on the go and I spent a lot of time foreshadowing, prompting and redirecting. For many years I was worried about his energy level, impulsivity and lack of safety awareness. Everyone kept telling me that things would calm down as he got older, but I knew there was more to it.
This last fall we were faced with having to switch daycares as there was no guarantee our baby on the way (June ’17) would have a spot in the center. When he started at the new daycare we were also in the midst of an evaluation. With my background in supporting individuals with developmental disabilities I was very proactive and involved with the staff in getting to know my son and what support strategies would work well. Unfortunately, the staff didn’t have the experience and were resistant to my suggestions; as a result my son struggled even more in his new environment and I was getting daily calls from the center that he was misbehaving and they didn’t know how they were going to handle things on a particular day because he was “going to do it again.” I had always feared that he was going to be pegged as THAT kid…you know, the one that everyone “has figured out,” but they really don’t have a clue. It quickly became a very stressful time as I tried to manage my job, respond to the crisis at daycare as well as trying to get the new center to embrace my son and support him by making reasonable accommodations. We also started to see an increase of behaviors at home since things were not managed well at the center.
January 12, 2017 he was diagnosed with ADHD-hyperactive-impulsive type which came as no surprise. I was very hopeful because I knew we could now pursue specific supports to help him. The next day he was kicked out of daycare. I agreed it wasn’t a good fit and didn’t want to spend so much time trying to get the center to accept my son and embrace all the wonderful aspects of who he is as I didn’t feel we would ever get there. During this time leading up to the transition I experienced a lot of anxiety, depression and lost a lot of sleep over what was happening. I worried the next center would end the same way and then where would we go? That would be our last option. I worried about how I was going to be able to support him through all the negative perspectives of others, the comments and dirty looks from strangers and even those close to him. I want to instill in him that he is precious and worthy of acceptance and love. I want this to be what trumps all and carries him through.
I was listening to Life 102.5 and Hawk Nelson’s “Diamonds” came on the radio. I knew this was God speaking to me and letting me know that everything was going to be ok. He has been refining me all these years and because of my work experience I am able to be a better and stronger advocate for my son. On the flip side, because of my own personal experience, I able to better connect with families and the challenges they face. Thanks be to God for all that he has done in my life! I am also thankful for the music I hear daily on Life 102.5. It gives me encouragement, courage, strength and love and I carry that into everything I do.
Sometimes it’s easier to just let things go. But what does that look like in a culture that holds up anger as a virtue?