Growing Up Special

Thoughts, ramblings, and encouragement from a special need sibling to the world

96 Cents June 17, 2011

Another Alyssa story… a follow-up from last Saturday’s post on the dark after morning.

We were at the grocery store one Friday and Alyssa honed in on the movies. If you know Alyssa, you know she LOVES movies. If you don’t know Alyssa… well, it’s time you learned that she LOVES movies. 🙂 She’s addicted. She will carry around old VHS tapes, even though we have no way to play them, just because she loves them so much.

Well, she found a Beethoven DVD on sale and she was DETERMINED that she was going to get that video. However, we had to tell her no.

Alyssa does not take well to the answer ‘no’ when it comes to movies. So we started talking. I talked to her, then Momma talked to her, then I talked to her some more. Nothing was going to convince her to leave that movie. She started getting grumpy. Then she started getting mad. Then she started pushing and pulling and pinching. All in all, it was very quickly deteriorating into a full-blown, all-out tantrum in the grocery store.

(Random sidenote: if this had been the ‘regular’ grocery store in Granby, I wouldn’t have worried so much. Most people know Alyssa and they are understanding and probably won’t call the police or security or think we’re horrible people. Isn’t it awesome to have a place like that? Anyway… this happened to be an unfamiliar grocery store in Denver. As a result, I was kind of hoping we could get out without a tantrum).

Well, we were all buying candy bars and I had asked Alyssa several times if she wanted one. She always said no, she was getting a movie. But in a last ditch effort to avoid that tantrum, I told her all about how wonderful and yummy those candy bars were. I told her how awesome it would be if she could eat one. After a few minutes, she reluctantly laid down the movie and picked up a candy bar.

By the time we paid for it, she was beaming! She bounced outside and shouted “Mommy! Look what I got!!!”

My mom made a comment about me ‘giving in’ or ‘bribing.’ She was probably right. But when I saw how happy and cheerful everyone was and contrasted that with the alternative of a several hour kicking, screaming, all-out tantrum… I decided I was okay with that.

I also think that was the best spent 96 cents EVER.

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Graduation June 6, 2011

Well, it finally happened. As of about 10:30am on Saturday morning, Alyssa officially graduated. It was amazing. She was the first one to walk across the stage and the entire auditorium erupted in cheers and applause. I think she had more cheering than any other graduate.

For all the difficulties, exclusion, and whatever else she’s had to put up with in her life, it was beautiful to see an entire community support, encourage, and cheer her on as she celebrated this major life accomplishment. We were all in tears at how loved she is.

I’m sure there will be many more posts about Alyssa’s graduation… pictures, videos, stories, and the beautiful person that she is. 🙂

 

Relating May 30, 2011

Please note I do not recommend the TV show I mention below. This post is merely an observation about what I have seen, not an endorsement.

So… I kind of want to cry right now. I’ve been watching episodes of a TV show recently and among the many families is one with a child with Asberger’s Syndrome.

Max has tantrums. He has trouble adapting socially. He doesn’t understand the things a ‘normal’ child his age would. It’s really interesting to see something so close my own life played out on television. But I think it’s a good thing. It’s good for others to start to understand what life is like with a special needs child. It’s a good thing for those of us who already know to see some of our struggles looking back at us through the TV.

Anyway. I don’t know why I feel like crying when I watch those scenes with Max, except that I relate. I relate to his parents and sister. I relate to the pain, the frustration, the hurt. But as I watched the final scene of one episode, in between the tears, I had to laugh. Max and his parents sat around the table playing Go Fish. And it is just so like our family. We all play our games and have fun, but we always take time to play Go Fish with Alyssa.

Isn’t it crazy how many similarities there are between special needs kids? And how, even if “special needs” is just an actor playing out the script on-screen, we still recognize what is true of every special needs child and family. We relate… because we know what it’s like.

So let’s relate. In doing so, we’ll probably cry and laugh and it may be for no good reason. But I think it’s good for us to realize the similarities and to know that we’re not in this alone.

 

Interviewed… May 18, 2011

I recently participated in an interview with a gal who is writing her thesis on sisters of young adult women with intellectual disabilities. It’s always interesting (and slightly weird) to talk about myself and my experiences in growing up special, but this was a really good experience. Kate was very down-to-earth and real and didn’t have any reactions of horror to my stories. (Which is good, because I’m very honest about life with Alyssa)!

Anyway, it just made me think more about how important it is to find and keep those people in our lives that we can be honest with. Sometimes special is hard. Sometimes it’s awesome. Sometimes it’s just plain different.

But if we can find those around us who understand where we’re coming from, encourage each other through the hard times, laugh during the good, and just be there no matter what, I think we’ll all come away as better, stronger people.