Lately, there has been no escape from the endless lists.
Of side effects
Of doctors appointments
Of helpful books to read
Of therapists to see
Of other people who have struggled with the same differences and grew up to be perfectly amazing
Of future possibilities for long term care
Of all the things to watch out for
Of signs of improvement
Our lives are defined by a series of lists right now that, quite frankly, make my head hurt. (Incidentally, how ironic is it that I began this post with another list. A list of lists. Oh man.)
It has been a few weeks since my youngest son began treatment for his own list of diagnoses.
It has been good to find help. It has been good to see some improvement. It has been good to glimpse him starting to feel like himself again.
But mostly, it has been a whirlwind of conversations about all the things that are different.
His sleep patterns are different.
His ability to read is different.
His social interactions are different.
His brain function is different.
His reaction to certain medications is different.
His ability to sit still is different.
All of this is true. I understand that sometimes, in order to really help, particularly when a child is in crisis, we have to focus on the differences in order to take steps for treatment.
I understand it intellectually, but my heart is screaming, “STOP! That’s my baby you are talking about.”
My Child Is So Much More Than All Of This
Clinically, differences are what define a disorder. They are what allow a doctor make the distinction between diagnosis and otherwise unspecified.
But differences are not what define my children.
My children are more than their differences.
My sweet boys are so much more than what the world sees.
I think they are even more than what I can really see.
The danger in so much discussion about their learning differences, diagnoses, treatment plans and therapies is that the focus can and does shift, from child to disorder.
What a loss.
Because my children are so much more capable, so much more fun, so much more loving, and so much more child-like, than their diagnostic charts reveal.
Even on their worst days, they astound me with their bravery, their humor despite the pain, and their passion for life.
On their best days, they take my breath away with their ability to love well, and embrace the lives they’ve been given.
Differences or not, they are children first.
They are my sons.
They are gifts that I cannot believe God has blessed me with, and entrusted to my care.
And they are so much more like other children, than they are different.
For more encouragement and support:
Shawna Wingert is a former training and development professional turned education specialist, and has homeschooled her two children for the last ten years.Shawna has written four books about homeschooling unique learners and has been featured in homeschooling discussions on Today.com, The Mighty, Simple Homeschool, My Little Poppies and Raising Lifelong Leaners.
You can find her online here at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.