Personally, I don’t think so.
I think it’s fairer to say that people CAN BECOME a better version of themselves when they raise special children.
Disabilities happen. Diagnoses happen. It is how we respond to the events that makes all the difference in our lives and in the world.
Life events leave us with a whole plethora of choices in how we will react. Some choose to ignore the child’s atypical development; bury their heads and hope it goes away. Some choose to let their anger and bitterness spoil their spirit and their relationships. Some choose to become “warriors” and fight for their children. None of these responses is bad or wrong in and of themselves….if they are temporary reactions. But, when they become cemented in a pattern of response…the results are problematic.
I don’t pretend to know God’s mind. The God I believe in is a God who loves perfectly so I am not inclined to think that God screws up a child’s development on purpose. In my thinking, genetics and neurons run awry at some point in the development. My faith tells me that I will be supported in raising this this child…divinely and humanly supported.
I HAVE a child with special needs. I will choose to respond with integrity, compassion, love and courage. The gift of my child will not be spoiled by my response. I take each day as it comes and take one step at a time in raising my child. I choose to be grateful for the small gifts: a full night of sleep, one less daily meltdown, new foods tried, a word spoken that has never come from the child’s mouth, an unexpected snuggle…
I choose to be optimistic about the future. I will be proactive: taking the initiative to reach out for help, ask questions, learn what needs to be learned. I will take the steps I need to take today (no matter how small) that will lead my child where he needs to be down the road. I will catch myself complaining and change my words to gratitude. I will choose to extend myself from my comfort zone: make phone calls, participate in meetings, play an active role in the goals and programs for my child.
I will allow myself to be vulnerable. Open to the help, support and love of others. I choose to see the goodness in others when the rest of the world cannot. I am training myself to see beyond the surface; to see beauty within. My child teaches me when I humble myself to be the student. My child leads me where I would never have chosen to go. My child with autism shows me that my view of success is small and limiting. Money, fame, celebrity, rank and degrees have little impact on the deepest needs of the spirit. My child teaches me that to love and be loved is what honestly matters more than anything…especially when our life on earth ends.
God gave me the gift of my child. Personally, I believe every child is a gift. What I do with that gift is what makes all the difference in my life, my child’s life and in the world.